by Lisa Tome
After spending nearly 140 days aboard space shuttle Discovery seven years ago, retired astronaut Dr. Sandra Magnus landed at Leeds Elementary School recently.
She spent part of the school day, in partnership with those from Orbital ATK, meeting with second graders on Tuesday, March 15.
In addition to being a NASA astronaut and engineer, Dr. Magnus has also served as Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. During her career with NASA, she also flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis. She was also part of a NASA undersea mission in 2006.
Dr. Magnus got up close with both the students and the ATK staff during a variety of science and space-related exercises.
The students built their own space stations using an empty toilet paper roll and a clothespin. They were then asked to find a partner, close their eyes, and follow directions to bring their astronaut (clothespin) in for a safe landing in the toilet paper roll.
"When I talk to kids, the younger they are, the harder their questions," said Dr. Magnus. "They are all excited and eager to learn."
Magnus teamed up with student Timothy Gray for the space shuttle landing project. "He did a great job. He flew right to it. He's ready to launch now," said Dr Magnus.
Timothy Dominick a staffer at ATK in Elkton, and member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has been on the ground floor with this group of second graders. Dominick, who has a child in second grade at Leeds, began working with the students when they were in kindergarten.
"They've grown. They're excited to learn about science. We will see how much of an impact we can make with them," said Dominick.