SPRING HILL — For 10 days, students in seven second-grade classes rotated through a transformed classroom that looked as if it should have been floating through outer space.
Instead, it was parked on the second floor of Challenger K8.
The recent transformation was made possible by a Progress Energy grant co-written by teachers D.D. Brooks and Terri Bell. Requirements were to take state standards and integrate them into science lessons. The $1,000 grant helped fund the unit on space, but other teachers and some students contributed materials.
Those teachers, Denise Long, Kim O'Connell, Megan Liberty, Stacy Buttleman and Tammy Quinn, assisted by teachers Jennifer Hutson and Linda Martin, put together 10 learning centers. Even the entrance to the room was dressed up.
To get into the room students first entered a simulated tree house, fashioned after the book Midnight on the Moon, by Mary Pope Osborne from the Magic Tree House series. The magic tree house whisked them away on a space adventure, Brooks said.
Inside the room the first stop was "Space Explorers." Students used computers to learn about the first 100 shuttle fights and the astronauts on them. At station two, "Cosmic Comets," students could wrap cotton balls in foil and attach tails to make comets.
Station three was "Milky Way Madness." This had books to read and computers with Galaxy Galore software. Students could use it to match shapes to galaxy types. At this station the children made galaxies with black paper and glitter. Plus, there was a jar of Milky Way candy bars.
Next up was "Moon Mystery." Here students found a tub of four different colored and weighted balls. The question: "How does mass change crater depth?" This was also a tasty station. Oreos were used to illustrate the phases of the moon.
Stations five and seven were activities about the inner and outer planets. Station six was very yellow. The table had a bright yellow cover and a big, inflatable sun was suspended over it. Children made sun rotation models and sun catchers.
Courtney Barrett, 8, explained station eight, "Blast off":
"We made spaceships for aliens and humans," she said. This was her favorite station, and her spacecraft was made from construction paper.
Station nine was a favorite. "They all love the 'Stargazing Study,' " Brooks said. A section of the room was enclosed in black paper from floor to ceiling. It was a place to learn about constellations. The children drew their favorite constellations, created their own with sticker stars and "made food constellations out of pretzels and marshmallows," Alanna Koch, 8, said.
"Then we got to eat it," added Isabella Hoogland, 8.
This was also a favorite for Jacob Clark, 8. "I learned what a constellation is," he said.
He also said the whole space unit was a good idea, "because it was a lot of fun, and I learned some stuff."
Olivia Guerin, 8, liked "Stargazing," too, but she had trouble picking a favorite station. "It was hard between the 'Stargazing Study' and the 'Astronaut Adventure,' " she said, "because I loved both of them."
The final center, "Astronaut Adventure," gave the children an opportunity to fill out an astronaut application. They also stood on a scale and donned heavy clothes, held simulated air ventilators and stepped onto the scale again to get an idea of how heavy a space suit might be. They also sipped applesauce from plastic bags like real astronauts do.