Mary Ann Van Osdell, Menard, Troy, Schexnayder, Kathleen | 7/21/2009 12:28:13 AM
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE – Exactly 40 years after Apollo 11 took off for the moon, 30 children gathered at Barksdale Air Force Base as part of a weeklong rocketry camp, complete with a launch of their own rockets on July 16.
This is one of a number of events around the state to help military families stay connected, said Kathleen Schexnayder, coordinator of the Louisiana Operation Military Kids program in the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development Department.
Victor Santana, youth program director for Barksdale Air Force Base, said the event keeps the kids busy during the summer, helps them interact, gives them a hands-on project, introduces them to space and rocketry and keeps their minds focused.
A joint program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense, Operation Military Kids is a support network started five years ago to educate the public about the unique stress facing military children, particularly when their parents are deployed, Schexnayder said.
Lessons at rocket camp focused around air and flight and launching of various rockets the children built, said Troy Menard, LSU AgCenter agent in Bossier Parish.
The participants kept daily journals on what they learned, and the journals were judged for prizes, he said.
The children, 8 to 12 years old, became familiar with thrust, gravity, drag and lift, Menard said, adding that math lessons included measuring angles, trajectory and distance.
“This is one way to encourage girls this age to major in science and math,” Menard said
Adunyea Nichols, 11, said he learned Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and gravity and who the Wright Brothers were.
“I learned how to build rockets and other inspiring things,” said Daniel Benjamin, 8. “I can do and make new things. I feel creative.”
Added Kaylee Scott, 7, “I had fun and made new friends. They’re really nice.”
Bossier Parish School Board member Eddy Presley served as a volunteer at the camp, helping children cut patterns and glue fins on plastic bottles used for rockets.
“Working with the kids is great,” he said.
The week ended with a trip to Sci-Port Discovery Center in Shreveport.
An Operation Military Kids fashion camp will be held at Barksdale the week of July 20.
For additional information on the LSU AgCenter’s Operation Military Kids program, contact Schexnayder at 225-578-2196 or firstname.lastname@example.org.