Students Share Space Simulation in Scientist's Short Shuttle
Norman E. Paulsen, a science teacher at the Bardmoor Elementary School in Seminole, Fla., aims to find out whether 120 3rd graders there have the right stuff.
Those students who pass a physical-fitness test and score 70 percent on a basic-skills examination will have completed the special "astronaut training" course created and designed by Mr. Paulsen and will get to ride on a 12-foot-long, 600-pound scale model of America's space shuttle.
The 10 3rd graders who score the highest on a 4th-grade skills test will pilot the fiberglass craft in its mock flights.
Mr. Paulsen said he built the model craft--with help and donations from local businesses, vocational schools, and some of his colleagues--in order to motivate his students.
And the students, he said, are responding enthusiastically. All of the 3rd graders at Bardmoor are avidly studying theories of flight and other aspects of the space shuttle. They are taking copious notes and even bringing extra books home to read at night to study for the astronaut test, Mr. Paulsen said.
Not all of the students are required to take the test, Mr. Paulsen said. Those who choose not to take it will be assigned to mission control for the mock flights.
The mock flight will simulate reality, Mr. Paulsen said. In the cockpit are switches that "light up and change and fluctuate," and across the front window will be a filmstrip screen on which pilots and passengers will be able to see slides of "what looks like space" during their 12-minute shuttle stint.
Mr. Paulsen said he and his volunteer crew are now putting the final touches on the sound and video productions that will complete the students' sensory space odyssey.
Meanwhile, Mr. Paulsen, 45, has applied to be the first civilian to fly in the space shuttle as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's teacher-in-space program.