Spotlight on Staff: James Talmage recognized for flying 3,000 missions (and taking 100,000 students) to the moon

When the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed in 1986, the Houston Museum of Natural Science was the first organization in the nation to establish a learning center in memory of the astronauts who died. HMNS opened the first Challenger Learning Center in 1988; today, there is an international network of more than 45 centers devoted to simulated space flight.

Challenger Learning CenterNow, the National Challenger Learning Center has honored HMNS Flight Director James Talmage for completing 3,000 missions in the Museum’s Challenger Learning Center, sending more than 100,000 students soaring to the Moon and Mars.

The Challenger Learning Center has taught its student astronauts the value of working as a team to accomplish a successful mission. During Talmage’s 12 years years as Flight Director, he has continually improved students’ learning experience, giving countless young people the opportunity to solve problems and model real-world careers in Houston.

From birthday parties to adult team building, James Talmage has made the Challenger Learning Center an interactive learning experience for all ages. To learn more about HMNS’ Challenger Learning Centers, located at the Museum’s main campus and at The George Observatory click here.

Up for a challenge? Join us at the George Observatory on Saturday for Rocket Day, get special access to simulated space flight!

Attendees at The George Observatory’s Rocket Day this Saturday morning will have more than water rockets to show for it.

After a morning of learning about rockets and how they work, kids will build their own water rockets and launch them with the help of adult volunteers.

Afterwards, children and their parents can enter The Challenger Center, board the S.S. Observer and embark on a mission to the Moon, participating in real astronaut training and learning how problem-solving can make or break any mission.

Challenger Learning Center

Our simulated space flights are usually reserved for large groups, so Rocket Day represents a rare chance to enjoy simulated space flight for individuals! The mission is most appropriate for ages 7 and up; children 7 to 9 will need adult supervision.

Once you’re done exploring outer space, why not explore Brazos Bend State Park? With six lakes, multiple hiking trails and a fantastic hands-on nature center there is plenty to do and see.

In fact, stay all day and join us Saturday night for the Perseid Meteor Shower Party! Meteors will become visible around 10 p.m. and will become more frequent as dawn approaches. Snacks, blankets and sleeping babes are welcome.

To learn more about Rocket Day and our simulated space missions, please call 281-242-3055 or visit our website.

What: Rocket Day at the George Observatory
When: Saturday, August 11; 10 a.m. to noon
Where: The George Observatory at Brazos Bend State Park. Please note that regular park entrance fees apply: $7 per person, free for kids 12 and under.
How much: $20 per child, free for adults

Family Space Day at the George: Experience the Challenger Learning Center with your kids, plus bottle rockets!

Get out of town this weekend and head south toward Brazos Bend for a day of family fun at the George ObservatoryFamily Space Day!

For the duration of Family Space Day, the Challenger Learning Center will be open for individual children and adults to learn the importance of teamwork in a simulated mission to space.

Be an astronaut for a day as you and your child are assigned jobs aboard the Space Station Observer and work in tandem to solve real-world problems. NASA volunteers will be running the missions and interacting with participants as they experience real astronaut training.

The Challenger Learning Center is usually only open to groups, so don’t miss this rare chance to complete a mission as an individual.

Stay after your mission and see space from the other side during stargazing on the observation deck. Tickets to access the George Observatory telescopes go on sale at 5 p.m. for $5, weather permitting.

For more information on Family Space Day and the George Observatory, including mission times and rules, click here!

Family Space Day [George Observatory]Attendees prepare to launch bottle rockets at Family Space Day 2010

Volunteers from Boeing will also be on-hand throughout the day as part of the company’s third annual Global Day of Service. Boeing employee volunteers will help facilitate a variety of children’s activities, including bottle rocket launching, crafts, robotics and more.

Watch a video of all the fun at Family Space day below!

Happy Birthday George Observatory!

20 years ago, it was still the 80s. The Hubble Telescope had not been launched, nor returned the extraordinary images from the deepest regions of space that inspire such wonder today. Construction on the International Space Station hadn’t yet begun, and Pluto was still a planet.

Girl Scouts

And, 20 years ago today, the George Observatory was born. Since then, countless school children, aspiring astronomers, and people just interested in seeing the beauty of the stars and planets have visited the facility in Brazos Bend State Park.

For 20 years, kids have participated in simulated space missions by heading for outer space in our Challenger Learning Center. Visitors have gazed through our three telescopes, open to the public almost every Saturday night. Through our large 36′ Gueymard Research Telescope, visitors have been able to view the craters on the moon, all of the planets, comets, meteors, eclipses, and various stars and constellations. Using the telescope, a group from the Fort Bend Astronomy Club has discovered more than 400 asteroids – and named five of them. Come by on a Saturday night, and you’ll meet many of them – as they’re frequently on hand to share a look through their telescopes and a passion for observing.

Over the last 20 years, dozens of probes and satellites have been sent to scout nearby moons and planets. NASA has plans to study them in more detail, explore new masses, and is planning the completion of the International Space Station in 2011.

Who knows what the future of space holds for mankind? Supernovas exploding in the deep of space, space colonization, or even intelligent life on other planets. We fervently hope that the George will inspire kids to be a part of the future of science and space exploration, wherever that might lead them – and into an exploration of the unknown. We look forward to discovering the future of space and uncovering new mysteries along with you at the George Observatory.
0017