‘Moon crash’ has happy ending for Belmar students

By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent

THE FINAL FRONTIER • Students in St. Rose Grammar School, Belmar, learn about space through various experiments culminating in a “Moon Crash Landing” team assignment in which they had to prioritize items to carry from a crash site to a space station. Courtesy photos.

Surviving a crash landing on the moon sounds like science fiction – but students of St. Rose Grammar School, Belmar, are ready for it when it happens.

The fifth-grade classes spent three weeks in science class studying the solar system, with the knowledge that a “survival” activity would take place at the end of the unit.

“Students were very excited about this!” said fifth grade science teacher Laura Urspruch. “It was a culminating activity … [in which students learned] how to brainstorm, share ideas and finalize their answers while working in a group.”

After learning facts about the sun, moon and planets, watching several educational videos, making models of the moon’s surface that simulated crater formation and drawing a scale model of the solar system outside with sidewalk chalk, they were ready for the “Moon Crash Landing.” Groups of three to four students were each given a packet outlining the scenario.

“On a routine journey from earth to a lunar base, there is an accident,” the scenario read. “Something has gone wrong, and you crash land on the moon’s surface, 60 miles from the nearest base. It is daylight on the moon, and will be for the next few days. In the moon’s lower gravity, that is not too far to walk, but you are limited in what you can carry. What should you take with you?”

Having named their mission, the groups proceeded to choose items from a list of 12 possibilities, brainstorming to determine what was essential and what to leave behind. The items are ranked from one to 12 by NASA engineers; survival is based on the total number score at the end of the activity.

“I liked the idea of trying to survive on the moon, because if someone wanted to become an astronaut, it would be helpful information,” said Marian Moore. “I didn’t realize we needed a constellation map, because I thought the stars would look different on the moon.”

Caroline Lang was excited about the subject matter and the chance to work in groups, despite being a little nervous because “I wanted to do well and survive … I was surprised that we needed a transmitter because I didn’t think it would work on the moon,” she recalled.

“In my group, we talked about what items we needed from the list to survive,” said Joseph Seib, who noted that his team chose items based on the moon having no atmosphere.

John Semblewski enjoyed working on the project as well. “My class and I agreed that we learned so much about the moon that we otherwise wouldn’t have known.”

Urspruch was proud of her students’ results. “I’m happy to report that all of our fifth graders survived!”

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