20 years ago my dad gathered us up and took us on one of the longest road trips of our lives. From Phoenix, AZ to Miami, FL! Three kids in a car with one brave padre. We made plenty of stops along the way and one of them was The Kennedy Space Center. Back then the space center was more of an astronauts hall of fame than anything else. I loved it then and now it is so much more grand and interesting for little learners of any age. Here's why it will be the perfect side trip for your preschooler or the preschooler in you.
A Rocket Garden
NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo rockets are all here for your little ones to marvel and gawk at. These life sized giants can make a little boys (or big boys) eyes light up with thoughts and dreams of one day being able to drive or better yet build such amazing machines. Yes girls also have such dreams, I know, I was one of them. Evenso, there is something special about the way boys look at these magnificent machines. Our son had just reached that age where rocket ships are the best thing ever, so being able to see them up close was absolutely a dream come true for him. V liked sitting inside the Gemini VII spacecraft where two male astronauts in the 60's sat together for weeks in claustrophobically 'child' sized quarters. Eh, maybe astronautics is not for me after all.
Space Training Simulators
Two places in particular really pulled our son's attention. The astronaut space training simulators and the inside replicas of the Atlantis space shuttle. V could have spent the entire day pretending to drive the space shuttle if there hadn't been other people trying to do just the same thing. He found his happy place at the joystick, surrounded by hundreds of buttons to push and pull. Finally we convinced him that other people wanted a turn at driving the shuttle. This was no big deal because a floor below there was an entire wing of space training simulators which also included plenty of joystick fun. I guess it's called a joystick for a reason right?
Atlantis Short Movie
Nothing really impressed my son quite like the Atlantis short movie. As you walk into the Atlantis attraction, you walk up a ramp and then wait for your group to enter the theater room. He watched intently as they explained the complex engineering journey toward the making of Atlantis. The finale showed the completed Atlantis space shuttle at the launch site. V watched on as the countdown began and the entire launch took place right before his eyes. Honestly I was surprised he watched the whole thing without complaining about the loud noise in the room. If he was scared at all, I think his inquisitive interest won over any fears he might have had. Since our little side trip to the Kennedy Space Center, V has been building all varieties of rockets, memorized the entire solar system and has even learned how to use the telescope with dad. Not all learning need be confined to the classroom. In fact all of the above learning has mostly taken place at home. A little fun can lead to much curiosity for things unknown.