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A Moon Landing and the Education of Our Children

By Jonathan Perlin
August 6, 2019

Cosmosphere Museum

As Liquid Galaxy flows from city to city, a big museum in small-town Kansas welcomes its newest exhibit to the collection. Amidst authentic NASA artifacts and real remnants of the space program, an array of seven screens glows in the shadow of the full-size replica of the lunar module that put man on the moon. In the wake of the 50th anniversary of the monumental mission, Liquid Galaxy arrives right on time to educate and awe patrons of all ages.

A family exploring the Liquid Galaxy

“Jim and I had a great time experimenting with it...and while we were doing so, we talked with three different guests—one couple and two singles—who said how much they appreciated us adding it. What Jim and I appreciated was the variety of content that we can see teachers using when they have classes here.” —Mimi Meredith, VP of Development, Cosmosphere Museum, Hutchinson, Kansas

In the initial stages of installation, passersby cocked their heads in curiosity as large displays were lifted onto their mounts and the form of Liquid Galaxy emerged. The scene dramatically changed as the screens came to life and images of Earth and the Moon flew across the screen to the delight of children and adults alike. Witnessing the joy and wonder of these museum guests was by far the most rewarding aspect of participating in the installation. But it also got me thinking about the education of our children. To see kids get excited about science, space travel, and engineering was refreshing and ultimately a wonderment to witness. Just as we had Liquid Galaxy up and running a crew of space camp cadets rounded the corner and we smiled as their eyes widened.

Immediately a barrage of questions: What is it? Where did it come from? How can you use it? Can we play games on it? But the biggest question I heard among the volley was: What can we learn from it?

This question not only overwhelmed me with a sense of joy, but also instilled a feeling of hope for our planet’s future. Inquisitive by nature, children remain the last hope for our society. How and what we teach them is of the utmost importance. Encouraging and feeding that sense of insatiable curiosity is, in my opinion, our last line of defense against ourselves if we wish to continue living on the crust of this tiny blue marble hurtling through space.

A group of kids using the Liquid Galaxy

Another observation that I made during the installation was the way patrons of different ages responded to the controls of the Liquid Galaxy. The six-axis joystick, called a SpaceMouse (formerly known as SpaceNavigator), allows the user to navigate the planet in “free-flight.” I found myself explaining the controls much more to older members of the public whereas kids and other younger campers would come up and intuitively begin using the system.

From the moment the system was operational until the time we left, there was no doubt in my mind that the addition of Liquid Galaxy to the Cosmosphere Museum highly encourages teaching through high-tech methods. Because Liquid Galaxy allows one to convey a narrative with a broad array of customizable formats, educators are able to teach history and science with accessible modern technology. It is through these means that the power of Liquid Galaxy in the hands of an educational institution is demonstrated.

Today’s youth is growing up and developing in a digital age surrounded by technology and information. Educational programs such as those at the Cosmosphere Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas are instrumental in allowing kids to control the flow of information they receive, and sift through it. This results in young, powerful, and creative minds moving to understand how the world works and promotes individual thinking that propagates progress. Hopefully, this continuous investment of responsibility in our children can result in a brighter future for generations to come.

An excited kid points at the Liquid Galaxy

This exhibit was made possible by the generous donation of Brian McClendon and Beth Ellyn McClendon.

For more information on liquid Galaxy, visit: liquidgalaxy.endpoint.com.

For more information on the Cosmosphere Museum, visit: cosmo.org

liquid-galaxy


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