Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Kennedy Space Center Adventure for Justice and Mrs. Karnes

My trip to Florida was out of this world! I made the very long ten hour drive to Orlando, Florida with Mrs. Karnes and her family. We were hoping to see space shuttle Endeavour’s last launch on April 29th. The space shuttle program is quickly coming to an end. This would be the next to last shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center ever! Mrs. Karnes’ son, Christopher, loves anything having to do with space and I have never seen a space shuttle so what a perfect trip! This would be STS 134, or the 134th mission of the space shuttle program. On the 16-day mission, space shuttle Endeavour will deliver spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank, and additional spare parts for Dextre and micrometeoroid debris shields. An Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will also be transported for installation on the International Space Station. If you want more information on this project you can visit

We had to wake up very early to load the bus to take us to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was still dark. We arrived at the Visitor’s Center around 6:30 am. An astronaut looking down on us greeted us at the gate! We did not have much time to visit the center because we would have to get back on a bus to travel to the causeway. We visited the Rocket Garden. They were like huge statues. It was unbelievable how big these rockets really were. We saw the Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put sent astronauts into space. They also had models of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules. Boy, there sure was not much room for astronauts to move. There were so many people at the visitor’s center hoping to see the shuttle launch we did not see much else. Even President Obama brought his family.

We loaded the bus and began our quick journey to the Causeway. It is the closest public viewing area for a shuttle launch, about 6.5 miles away from launch pad 39A. It is a very narrow strip of land that connects Merritt Island to Cape Canaveral. On our way over, we heard over the radio that the shuttle launch had been scrubbed due to a problem with one of the heaters. We were given the chance to get out and view the shuttle sitting on the launch pad. It was amazing! We were hoping to video chat with Mrs. Karnes’ class while we were there, but there was no cell service on the Causeway. We were able to keep the class up to date using texts as we were on the bus and at KSC. We were really disappointed that the launch did not happen, but the safety of the astronauts is the most important thing. We got some great photos and met some very nice people.

The next day we returned to the Space Center to tour the exhibits. It was much less crowded. We were able to walk inside a model space shuttle to see what the cargo bay area looks like. We participated in the shuttle launch experience. This was AMAZING! You got to see what it would feel like to be in the orbiter as it prepared and took off for launch. It would be so cool to be an astronaut. In the Exploration Space Exhibit we got a glimpse of the future of space exploration. We were able to see that you need a lot of Math and Science to work behind the technology that makes this type of exploration possible.
We saw a model of the Ares rocket that will be used to transport people to space when the shuttle program ends ( We went on a guided tour that took us past the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where the shuttle is prepared for launch. It was so big that the Statue of Liberty could fit inside. We were able to go the observation gantry and take photos of Endeavour with the RSS (rotating service structure) in place. We also saw the crawler transport that carries the shuttle from the VAB to the launch pad. It can only travel 8 mph. It is so heavy that it crushes the gravel to sand! Next, we toured the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This took us back to those first Apollo missions where man first dreamed of reaching the moon. We saw a real Saturn V rocket. It was enormous!!

We toured the Apollo Treasures Gallery that included Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard’s spacesuit, Apollo 16 astronaut John Young’s cuff check list with instructions on how to deploy the American flag on the moon, and Apollo 13’s spacesuit repair kit and service module rescue book. Back at KSC we watched an IMAX film about the Hubble Telescope. The pictures this telescope is sending back to Earth are amazing!! We were able to see a T-39, also known as the “astronaut taxi” because it brings the astronauts to KSC for shuttle launch preparations. It is also the aircraft they use for training. We learned so much in just one day at the Kennedy Space Center. We cannot wait to go back!

Endeavour finally made it into space on Monday, May 16th at 8:56 am. We watched the launch live on NASA TV using the data projector in Mrs. Karnes’ room. We were glad to all be together to witness the launch of this giant vessel that has been transporting people into space for over 30 years. It is sad to see it ending. You can follow this mission and other exciting space news at For interactive adventures status.htmlin space you can visit

Justice in astronaut suit

Endeavor pad




televised launch shown in classroom

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Liberty Goes on a Field Trip to Airlie Gardens with Mrs. Tobin's 3rd Grade Class

We are on the bus to Airlie Gardens for a field trip. We will see the big oak tree and learn a lot about soil. There are lots of trees. One is the Sassafras. It makes root beer. The Dogwood is our state flower and the Pine tree is our state tree. Sap comes from Pine trees. It is sticky and makes a lot of stuff. Matt, our guide, found a Ring Necked snake. We are also looking at different types of soil; clay, sand and humus. We get to count how old the trees are by counting the rings. The tree parts are called tree cookies. You count the years by counting only one color ring.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Spring Break Vacation in Washington, DC for Liberty and Grace

My name is Grace Robertson and I am in the 1st grade in Mrs. Blanchard’s class. I went to Washington D.C. with my mom and dad and my sister Hannah during spring break. I got Liberty as my patriot. When I first got there I went to the National Archives. It had beautiful art work. I also saw the three documents, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. And it was the real ones. And I also went to the Natural Science Museum. It had real dinosaur bones. I also saw real animal bones.

The next day I got on some subs but not the food kind of sub and I got on the wrong ONE! I fixed that because of a map. I went to the White House. I went to the Lincoln Memorial. And I went to the art museum. It had the Thinking Man there and the famous ballerina there too. And most of all there was the portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci. And I also went to Union Station and Arlington Cemetery. I saw the tomb of Kennedy and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

I went to Ford's Theatre where Abe Lincoln was shot. I saw a play there and saw the real gun he was shot with and the real seat he was sitting in. I saw the coat he was wearing that night.

Then I went to the Natural Museum of American History. I saw the real Star-Spangled Banner. I went to the Supreme Court. Then I went to the Library of Congress and while I was there I saw Thomas Jefferson’s library. Some of the books were replaced but the other ones were real books.

Then I went to the Capitol. It was a beauty there I tell you! I also went to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. One of my favorite parts there was how I could watch money being made right in front of me.

We also went to the Air and Space Museum. I saw Amelia Earhart’s plane. I went to the World War II Memorial. It was very pretty there.

Then I went to the Washington Monument. It was very high up there and very pretty up there too. And then I also went to the Jefferson Monument. It was pretty and it had a speech about “liberty” on the wall. You can see it in one of my pictures.

I thought the trip was really fun and I had a lot of adventures there, but now it was time to go home.

Liberty went home because she wanted to see Justice and Freedom.

Freedom Attends a Wedding in Massachusetts with Jocelyn and Nolan

Jocelyn, Nolan and Freedom took a trip to Massachusetts for the wedding of Jocelyn and Nolan’s Uncle Gil and his fiancĂ©e Emilie. It was a very busy weekend, but very fun. Jocelyn, Nolan and Freedom arrived in Boston on Friday afternoon.  Next they travelled to Waltham, MA which is about 20 minutes outside of Boston (without traffic). They checked into their hotel and then got ready to attend the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Jocelyn was asked to be a flower girl and Nolan was the ring bearer, so they had to rehearse their parts in the wedding.
At the rehearsal, the families and friends got to meet each other and practice their roles in the wedding. Everyone was very excited. Freedom even got to help out with the rehearsal, as Jocelyn and Nolan’s father was an usher and needed to practice seating wedding guests, so Freedom helped out. After the rehearsal, the wedding party went out for a delicious Italian meal to celebrate. It was nice spending time with family and meeting new friends.

On Saturday, Jocelyn and Freedom got to attend the bridal shower for Emilie, the bride-to-be. The shower was held at a fancy bakery in Brookline, which is a town right next to Boston. Freedom and Jocelyn enjoyed all the yummy food and pastries that were served at the party.

On Sunday, the day of the wedding, Jocelyn and Freedom got to have their hair done at a hair salon with the bride and bride’s maids. They had to sit very still and be patient while they got their hair done. After their hair was done, they got into their wedding clothes and got Nolan and the rest of their family and headed to the church. The wedding was beautiful and everyone in the wedding party remembered what they rehearsed on Friday night.

After the wedding there was a reception down the street. The reception was a lot of fun. There was delicious food and cupcakes. There was also a very special ceremony that took place during the reception that all the guest got to watch. On the trip, Freedom learned that Jocelyn and Nolan’s uncle was adopted from Korea when he was a baby. Emilie, the bride, was born in Korea and moved with her family to the United States when she was four years old. Gil and Emilie had a traditional Korean bowing ceremony to celebrate their Korean heritage. Before the Korean bowing ceremony, both Gil and Emilie changed into traditional Korean clothes. During the ceremony, the bride and groom took turns bowing to each set of parents, their aunts and uncles, and siblings. After they bowed to their parents, the parents threw figs and chestnuts at the bride and groom and however many they caught in a cloth they both held signified how many children they would have (figs for girls and chestnuts for boys). According to the ceremony, the bride and groom are going to have 11 girls and 3 boys. After the bride and groom bowed to their aunts and uncles and siblings, they listened to words of advice from those relatives.

It was a beautiful ceremony and Jocelyn, Nolan and Freedom really enjoyed watching it and seeing the beautiful traditional Korean clothes that they wore. At the end of the ceremony came a fun part. The groom had to give the bride a piggy back around the room in a circle. It is said that the bigger the circle the larger the house they will have. Uncle Gil made a very big circle with Emilie on his back. They sure will need a big house for all those kids!!
At the end of the night, Jocelyn, Nolan and Freedom were exhausted. They got up early the next morning and caught their flight back to NC. It had been a fun and exhausting weekend. They had a great time at a very special wedding and one of the most exciting things was that Jocelyn and Nolan have a new aunt.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lindsey's and Freedom's Spring Break in Washington, DC

     My name is Lindsey and I am in Mrs. Hughes Kindergarten class. For Easter Weekend, I went to Washington, D.C. with my parents and grandparents. I took along one of our school mascots, Freedom.

Day 1

     We left very early on Friday morning. It’s a long drive. Friday was cold and rainy so we used this as our travel day. We did stop and do a little shopping at the Potomac Mills and the giant IKEA store. We also visited the National Cathedral that evening and attended the Good Friday Service.

Day 2

     We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Alexandria, VA which is just across the Potomac River from Washington. Saturday morning we got up early and rode the metro to the Smithsonian. This was my first trip on a metro. It was fast and I rode facing backwards. It was fun!

     Our first stop was the National Museum of American History. We saw the Star Spangled Banner Flag from 1814 which inspired our National Anthem. They keep it in a special, dark room where photos are not allowed. We also saw all the First Ladies fancy dresses, shoes and accessories. These were worn to their husband’s inaugurations. They also had life size photos of the current president and past presidents so Freedom and I posed for some pictures here. When we were leaving this museum, you won’t believe who we ran in to?! George Washington!
     Next we went to the National Museum of Natural History. This was my favorite. We saw huge elephants, dinosaurs, cavemen, mammals, insects and the famous blue diamond, The Hope Diamond. They also have a room of plants and hundreds of butterflies. We went in and a butterfly landed on my head. The butterflies were very beautiful.

     We grabbed a quick lunch at the Museum of Air & Space and then took off for our tour of the US Capitol Building. Our tour guide was great. She was very nice. We learned all about our government, The Senate and The House. Did you know that the statue on top of the Capitol Building is named Freedom just like our mascot? We walked in an underground tunnel from the Capitol to the Library of Congress which is the largest library in the world. We saw Thomas Jefferson’s collection of books!
     The US Botanical Garden is right beside the Capitol so we went here next. My parents are big gardeners and this was one of their favorites. From there we stopped in the American Indian Museum and then headed back down the mall towards the metro. We walked all day and were very tired. We grabbed some dinner and called it a day. We rode the metro back to our hotel.

Day 3

     We started out early again and went to the Jefferson Memorial. I brought my scooter from home so I really had fun riding it around the Jefferson Memorial and then later at the Lincoln Memorial. We also visited Arlington National Cemetery. John F. Kennedy is buried here and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is here. Robert E. Lee’s house is on the grounds as well.
     Next we visited the World War II Memorial. My Great-Granddaddy fought in this war so this memorial meant a lot to all of us. Right across, is the Washington Monument. We walked around it but weren’t able to go up. All the tickets were gone. So we walked over to the Old Post Office and went up in the bell tower. It’s really high up and has a great view of the Washington Monument. From there we headed over to Ford’s Theatre to see where Abraham Lincoln was shot and learned the history behind that event.
     The next stop was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – The White House. There was a lot of security everywhere and even a sharp shooter on the roof. This is one of the most popular spots in Washington and there were tourists and cameras everywhere. It was starting to get late and everyone was getting tired so we made a quick stop at Union Station, had dinner and went back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep!

Day 4

     Today is the day we head home but we decided to take in just a few more sights before we left. We went back to the Natural History Museum for a view more exhibits. Then we headed over to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a tour. We saw how all of our bills are printed. We walked up high on an observation deck and watched the workers print money down below! We saw a pallet that held 64 million in bills! WOW! That was a lot of money.
     Before leaving, we went to Harry’s which is the oldest Hotel in Washington, D.C. They have a great restaurant and we had lunch. I had the biggest grilled cheese sandwich that I have ever seen and it was great! We drove home and got home very late but it was worth it. We had a fantastic time and we learned a lot! We made some great memories too! Freedom really saw some sights and I know she was anxious to get back so she could tell Liberty and Justice all about it!