Teachers and parents alike worry about the "summer slide" Not the kind of slide you find on the playground, but the slide backwards that often happens during a summer away from school. No worries though for a bunch of kids at the Vera Court Neighborhood Center.
Over the course of seven weeks, ten kids enrolled in the Center's summer camps chose to become members of the Vera Rocket Club. Led by our Neighborhood Officers with help from Vera Court staff, the club members had a great time keeping their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills sharp.
How did they do it? Well, during the course of the program, the kids and their adult mentors covered lots of topics related to astronomy, space exploration, history, and rocket science. The kids learned about and then built scale models of the International Space Station. With the help of UW Space Place educator Kay Kriewald, the size and scale of the vast solar system came into sharp focus. We took a look at the sun in preparation for the Great American Eclipse on August 21. The club paid a visit to Madison's own Orbitec and met real rocket scientists, Drs Morrow and Treichel. The kids learned about and actually got to touch objects and experiments that actually flew in space. The club began reading Chasing Space, an autobiography by astronaut Leland Melvin. Everybody received their own hardcover copy of the book to keep and finish reading on their own. Finally, the club ended with a whoosh when each of the kids built their own model rocket and launched it high into the sky.
Our future rocket scientists all had a great time. It was all so fun, the learning just came naturally. No summer slide for these rocketeers!
Special thanks go out to our partners in making Vera Rocket Club take flight:
Madison Community Policing Foundation
Vera Court Neighborhood Center
University of Wisconsin Space Place