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Former astronaut enlivens Space Week at Madison elementary

Fifth-grader Allison Brooks had a great show-and-tell surprise for Space Week at Madison Elementary School.

Former astronaut Dr. Owen Garriott spoke at Madison Elementary School during Space Week. Fifth-grader Allison Brooks hugs her grandfather.

Allison’s grandfather, former astronaut Dr. Owen Garriott, spoke on May 10 to grades 4-6.

“Dr. Garriott was one of the first six scientists/astronauts that NASA selected in 1965,” fifth-grade teacher Karen Hartselle said. “He was science-pilot for Skylab-3 in 1973. With him on this record-breaking 59.5-day mission were Alan Bean and Jack Lousma.”

In 1983, Garriott was a mission specialist aboard Spacelab-1 and operated the world’s first amateur radio station from space. The first international shuttle crew commanded this 10-day flight.

After leaving NASA in 1986, he moved to Huntsville and served as vice president of space programs for Teledyne Brown Engineering from 1988 to 1993.

For the Madison elementary students, Garriott discussed his space travels, the planets and sun. He fielded questions, such as “What did it feel like without gravity?” “People do it all the time when they dive off a diving board or turn a flip in the air,” Garrett told them.

During Space Week, students “celebrated the wonder of space,” Hartselle said. “Madison elementary students appreciate the opportunities provided to them through the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Redstone Arsenal.”

In one activity, students made and flew paper airplanes in a school-wide contest. “They built robots or space ships out of recyclable materials,” Hartselle said. One day, they dressed as aliens.

“Space Week gives the students a better understanding of our universe. These studies carry over into reading (comparing and contrasting), math (studying measurements) and creative writing (for examples),” Hartselle said.

Even the younger students grasped aeronautical concepts that their teachers presented at their grade level, she said.

First-grader Emma Kate Lindsey in Susan Arnold’s class said she enjoyed “making the solar system pictures showing the planets’ orbits around the sun.”

Fifth-graders Riley Bong, Louis Hartselle and Tavias Clark liked constructing and flying paper airplanes. In the contest, Clark was overall winner.

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