Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Space Center Houston - Great For Kids, Short on the Nerd Factor

On July 20, 2009 I took a trip to Space Center Houston. I thought it appropriate to go this day, the 40th anniversary of Man's first walk on the Moon; a great day to go.

The highlight of the tour was visiting the historic mission control room where U.S. space flight was ran from the very beginning of NASA until 1996. It was in this room where the first words from the surface of the Moon were spoken, "Houston, Tranquility Base, the Eagle has landed."

Another highlight of the day was visiting "Rocket Park," which includes large building housing an Atlas V rocket and displays showing all the Apollo missions from 1 through 17. It was quite fascinating to me.

On the whole, though, the day was a bit of a disappointment. The Space Center Houston building itself is rather lacking in real science "stuff" and was mostly filled with displays which would appeal to grade-school-aged children. To be sure, the kids were having a great time, but I expected a lot more "Nerd Factor."

I was also disappointed that there was precious little shown regarding Apollo 11. There was a small display of tools and other artifacts from the mission, but only enough to occupy 10 minutes of my time. According to the web site the official celebration was to be held on July 24th, and perhaps there would be more on that day. Still, I expected a bit more.

To satisfy my geek urge, next time I go I plan to do the "Level 9" tour. This tour goes behind the scenes and takes you to places where the average visitor will not get to go. Reservations are required and I understand from what one of our tour guides mentioned that only 12 people are allowed for each of the 2 daily tours. The cost is almost $84.95, but looks to be well worth it. Lunch in the astronauts cafeteria is even included.
If you're going to go for the regular tours, visit the web site and purchase tickets on line for a $3.00 discount. The extra audio tour was worth the price and I recommend getting it, too. Parking is $5.00. If you have younger kids and you want to try to get them interested in science, this is a great place to go. If you have older kids or are going with just adults, though, you may want to pass.

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