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Science Center Field Trip

Seriously Cool Field Trip - Checking Out The California Science Center : )

CA Science Center

(Click the photo to enlarge and see additional pictures!)


On Thursday, May 21, Hamilton instructors Helen Ahn, Carolyn Holler, Blanca Tillett, and Jeff Creamer accompanied 49 of Hamilton's most enthusiastic science students on a day-long excursion to the Calfornia Science Center, located in Exposition Park, downtown Los Angeles near the Coliseum.

Among other things, the group dissected cow eyes, experienced desert-style flash floods, and got an up-close view of the space shuttle Endeavour.    Attendees were chosen in recognition of months of active participation in science activities, including forensics, recycling, underwater robotics, and Science Fair.

Ms. Ahn arranged for the group to try the Center’s “Discovery Lab” Eye Dissection activity, a hands-on program led by graduate students who work at the Center.   Armed with rubber gloves, goggles, a dissecting tray, and lab scissors, students work in pairs to remove extraneous fat and muscle tissue from their specimens, learn the relevant medical terms, and identify the major structures.  The Hamilton group separated and identified the optic nerve, the cornea, the iris, the lens, and the retina; and practiced using terms like “sclera”, “vitreous”, “aqueous”, and “pupil”.

Students enjoyed the “flash floods,” which occur every ten minutes in the desert area of the Center’s Extreme Zone Ecosystem exhibit.  The flood illustrates how a summer storm can bring down most of a year's rain in a single afternoon. The students also visited the Kelp Forest, the L.A. (Urban) Zone, and other Ecosystems.

The Endeavour was and always will be the youngest of the five space shuttles.  She was built to replace the Challenger, lost during launch in 1986.  The Columbia shuttle, built first, was also destroyed, during re-entry, in 2003.  Endeavour’s fate was rosy by comparison:  she completed 25 missions and orbited the earth more than 4,600 times.  The remaining two shuttles--Discovery and Atlantis—also made it to retirement, and are now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., and at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, respectively.

It’s impressive to stand beneath the Endeavour in her Science Center hangar home.  Her only visible windows are the “windshield” panes used by astronaut pilots.   She is longer than two school buses, and wider than five.  Her thruster engine exhaust tubes are so massive that a pair of Hamilton students could stand inside.  Her belly tiles—each numbered and replacement-dated—are covered with pock-marks and scratches left by space debris and atmospheric dust.

Matthew Givot's fascinating time-lapse documentary “Mission 26” loops in Endeavour’s waiting area.  This three-minute film documents Endeavour’s final journey from Los Angeles International Airport to the Science Center. The 12-mile trip took two days of close cooperation by dozens of technicians, working in tandem, to maneuver the shuttle and her robot tractor-bearers through Los Angeles neighborhoods without snagging power lines or trees.