Monday, Rene Syler decided to bring her 7-year-old son, Cole, to a parent-child camp program a little bit out of the ordinary, and somewhat out of this world. The following is her report:
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., is in its 24th year, welcoming aspiring astronauts of every age and ability.
Eight parent-child combinations joined to form Team Mercury. First up was a rocket launch, which meant a lesson in physics and gravity.
We built the rockets and Cole decided he wanted a passenger for his rocket. And so we bent over and found an ant, which was alive at the time. But when it was time to launch our rocket, the ant was dead. That didn't bother Cole. It was important to him that this ant did his mission and that it died in service to its country.
Launching ourselves would take a bit more practice. Through a variety of state-of-the-art simulations, we got to feel what it's like to be in outer space.
Your weight is one-sixth of what it is on Earth. Why not go to the moon?
"Leaping" was fun. So was "leaning" with the multi-access trainer, which was designed to turn everything upside down.
And Cole assured me he just felt fine, no matter how many times he turned upside-down in his contraption. So when it was my turn to spin, I knew I had to do better, only to hear later on, "Mom, I tricked you. It's real scary."
I think, like so many experiences with my children, it's interesting to watch the things that they're awed by. And the things that I'll take away from this will be completely different from the things he takes away.
After fueling up at the camp cafeteria, it was time to prepare to blast off in a simulated space shuttle mission. But would this team of moms and dads and their kids have the right stuff?
Everyone has a special job. Our job is Mission Specialist, one and two.
My little astronaut just looked great. We pushed some buttons and then we went out on a space walk and built a satellite tower.
Once our mission was complete, we returned to the flight deck for a successful trip back to Earth, one small step at Space Camp. It was one great summer camp experience for mom and son.
Thanks to all the members of Team Mercury and, of course, to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center for such a memorable experience. Cole and I had a great time.
Tuesday, it is Julie Chen's turn. She takes aim at day camp. Hopefully, she won't aim her bow and arrow at other campers.