PAPILLION – Two educators with a passion for space exploration brought the Space Race to the baseball diamond.
The Omaha Storm Chasers commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by hosting a “Lunar Landing Night” on Saturday, July 20. Doug Showell, part-time astronomy professor at UNO, and Anthony Galdamez, a sixth grade teacher at King Science and Technology Magnet Center, provided educational hands-on activities related to lunar exploration.
Leading up to the event, Showell was excited to celebrate the historic moon landing that brought the nation together. “It’s a great reminder of what people can do when they work together for a common cause,” he said. “It is also great because it gets people out looking at the sky and getting more people interested in the moon and astronomy.”
Showell and Galdamez also teach at UNO’s Aim for the Stars summer camps and are both NASA Solar System Ambassadors.
“Being an ambassador gives us a chance to inspire space exploration in our community,” Galdamez said. “We engage with the community by presenting certain subjects, providing activities to inspire our younger generation, and other activities that celebrate space missions.”
As part of this community engagement, these two took their knowledge and expertise on everything outside the earth’s atmosphere to Werner Park this past weekend.
Showell said activities for kids included a crater pool where they made moon craters, a station where kids built their own lunar lander, and an activity where kids learned about moon phases to go along with a giant map of the moon.
The 25-by-25-foot giant moon map is one of only fifty that have been distributed to educators worldwide. It features a view of the surface of the moon with markers indicating the landing locations of the Apollo mission landings.
The activities also educated participants on the upcoming Artemis moon missions — undertakings that Galdamez aspires to be involved in.
“I plan on becoming an astronaut and more specifically part of the Artemis 5 mission that will land on the moon,” Galdamez said. He has been working on earning certifications and completing the proper training necessary. This will be his second time applying to be an astronaut for NASA.
“I have also inspired some of my own students to become astronauts,” he said. “As a teacher, when you inspire students to do great things in their lives, it’s an instant reward knowing that they can value their education.”
The Omaha Storm Chasers hosted Lunar Landing Night at Werner Park on Saturday, July 20 at Werner Park in Sarpy County. In addition to the activities hosted by Showell and Galdamez, the evening featured space-themed LEGO set displays and giveaways, a Sue Nami (Lunar Lady) Bobblehead Giveaway for the first 2,000 fans, and in-game Apollo 11 trivia on the videoboard, and a postgame firework show.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.