In The Museum: Flight at the Museum
- By Rebecca Maksel
- Air & Space magazine, August 2009
Dane A Penland
(Page 2 of 3)
“It would be like Krypton,” offers a student. “You know, the planet where Superman’s from?”
Despite their joking, the students are eager to learn. “Why does the moon have enough gravity to affect the tides of the Earth, but it can’t hold you down on the surface?” asks another student, giving Fahy the opportunity to explain how mass affects gravity in space.
Jackson and Fahy generally teach four sessions a day, with 30 students in each class; they can accommodate students ranging from kindergarten (youngsters get a 60-minute session) through 12th grade (older students are offered a 90-minute lab).
The position of aerospace educator lasts for two years; Jackson is finishing her second year and will return to Loudoun County, Virginia public schools, where she teaches special education classes. Fahy, who teaches elementary school in Fairfax County, is just beginning her second year.
In the lab, Fahy asks the students to speculate about what a change in air pressure would do to a pilot’s lungs. To demonstrate such a change, she puts a Marshmallow Peep inside a vacuum chamber. As she pumps the air out of the chamber, the Peep expands dramatically.
“It’s going to explode!” yell the students. “Can we eat it?”
“No, these are Peeps in the name of science,” says Fahy. “We can’t eat these.” As she releases air back into the chamber, the Peep shrivels, then does a wild somersault.
“OK, how’s it look?”
“Deflated,” comes the response. “Like an old person,” a student adds helpfully.