Woodstock Elementary School students took a trip into space Friday, with Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah.
Through his vivid descriptions of space travel and a film showing fascinating scenes of Earth through the space shuttle Discovery's windows, the senator turned the school's auditorium into an imaginary space ship.Since January, the students at Woodstock, 6015 S. 13th East, have been learning about space life. Each grade level has contributed toward building a theoretical space station. The goal of parents and teachers is to raise money to purchase 15 computers for a lab to help students prepare for life in a day of modern technology.
Currently, fund-raising projects have paid for two computers for the school.
While the students were impressed with the technology of the space craft Friday, what caught their attention most were scenes of Garn playing with children's toys in space. They giggled as Garn flew a paper airplane and did somersaults. The children saw how a yo-yo works in space and how to play jacks and marbles in zero gravity.
"You can't imagine how much fun it is to operate in zero gravity," Garn told the students.
His description of eating in space also amused the children. In space, the senator said, your food can fly off your spoon so it is easy to spill, and then it flies around the room.
The students reacted to scenes from the Discovery of the Great Salt Lake, taken from space with "oohs" and "aahs."
The beauty of seeing the Earth from space is beyond description.
When asked which he enjoys most, being a senator or being an astronaut, Garn didn't hesitate. "Being an astronaunt" was his answer.
"I'd much rather talk about space than politics. It's a lot more interesting."
Garn then told the children the secret to becoming an astronaunt. "Do your homework and get good grades. The ones who have a good education are the ones who will go to space."
He promised the students that their age group would one day live on Mars and on real space stations.
"There are jobs for you out there that haven't been created yet."
Chris Woodruff, chairwoman of the group raising money for computers, said Garn's visit to the school emphasizes the need for children to have computers to prepare for the future. "Our children at Woodstock are behind others in their educations because the school has not made computers part of the daily curriculum. Our goal is to raise $20,000 so students can learn how to use computers not only in the area of science, but in all school subjects, including visual arts, English and geography."
Woodruff said she and other volunteer parents hope to receive support from other fund-raising efforts, donations from local businesses and grants to raise money to equip their children so one day they will be prepared to live in space, as Garn envisions.