Watch a live launch of the space shuttle on NASA TV. We watched this today during my Applied Physics. Atlantis made her final launch about 30 minutes into the class period and although not my Astronomy class, we made it a point to see. We put away all our work away and listened to Mission Control talk to the astronauts. We turned off the lights and saw the engines start to fire.
And when they reached zero time, goosebumps spread through the entire classroom.
The NASA Launch Commentator is awesome. I want to meet him. Every couple minutes, he updated us on the speed and altitude of the shuttle. These little tid-bits floored my kids. It took just 7 minutes for the shuttle to leave our atmosphere.
AND, the camera on the fuel tank gave us an incredible view of home.
Even if you don't teach astronomy. Even if you don't teach science. If you teach children, they need to see something like this in their lifetime. Kids (and grownups) can't help but be amazed by this.
Most common question? "Is this happening now?"
Second most common question? "What are they going to do in space?"
This sparked an incredible interest in the space program that I really didn't see coming. So we went to the library and looked up the specifics of Atlantis' last mission.
Not in the curriculum. Not in the state standards. Not on the state assessment.
Worth a "lost" teaching day.