A bit of NASA comes to town

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 crofts photo 5-17

                                               Photo by Joe Boyle

Evergreen Park residents Siobhan Croft and her daughter, Danielle, 11, study the lunar and meteorite discs that were on display on May 9 at the Evergreen Park Library.

Two staff members at the Evergreen Park Library recently hosted an exhibit that was, quite frankly, out of this world.

Julie Keaty, public events coordinator, and Kerrie Stone, the head of technical services, invited residents of all ages to view a disk that had lunar samples from the moon and another disk that contained fragments of meteorites at the library’s Teen Activity Center on May 9.

Keaty and Stone felt this event was ideal for sharing with the community. Keaty said the session was due initially to the efforts of Stone.

“I went to an American Library Association convention that had all this information from NASA,” Stone recalled. “It was very informative and interesting. Scientists were on hand from the Johnson Space Center and they helped to identify the rocks on display. I asked them about it and wondered if we could do something at our library. They said they could make it available to us. I told Julie we had to do this.”

Keaty did not have to be convinced. She began the process of making arrangements to have the lunar samples and meteorites on display at the library. However, first Keaty and Stone were required to attend an all-day training session organized by NASA.

“We not only learned about what was contained in the disks but about other aspects of NASA,” Keaty said. “It was a lot of information and very interesting.”

Keaty was able to have the session held at the Evergreen Park Library where other staff members could also be informed about the disks and other information pertaining to NASA.

The lunar and meteorite samples were directly on loan from NASA. The rocks were contained in protective disks. NASA also required that security was available, just in case. A member of the Evergreen Park Police Department was on hand.

Keaty and Stone were hoping that the disks would interest residents of the community. They did not have to wait long.

Curious parents and their children began to file into the Teen Activity Center to view the samples contained in the round disks. Keaty and Stone also had pamphlets available to inform the adults and kids about some of the samples and space exploration.

Visitors could view the disks, take photos and look at them under a magnifying glass. A steady flow of adults and children entered the room for the next hour to view the samples. Along with the disks and the pamphlets, a slide show was available to view locations on the moon where U.S astronauts have landed and specific regions of the planet.

Members of the Mankowski family, of Evergreen Park, were on hand to view the samples and read the literature. Ray Mankowski was joined by his daughter, Charlotte, 9, and son, R.J., 7. He had a keen interest in the display because he is a biology and earth science teacher at Evergreen Park Community High School.

“Yes, this all very interesting to me,” he said. “I wanted to take the kids here to show them all of this. They are interested, too.”

Suzie Klimowski was joined by her daughter, Megan. The Evergreen Park residents said when they found out about this event, they wanted to come.

“My daughter is very interested in this,” Suzie Klimowski said.

The lunar and meteorite samples are intended for classrooms ranging from kindergarten through high school. Between 1969 and 1972, six Apollo missions returned with 842 pounds of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from the moon. The six space flights brought back 2,200 separate samples from six different exploration sites on the moon, according to NASA. The samples are housed in a special sample building at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Nearly 400 lunar samples are prepared and distributed each year for research and teaching projects. Study of the lunar samples brought back by the Apollo missions continue to provide information about the moon, which is believed to have been formed from debris knocked off the earth 4.4 billion years ago by a planetary body the size of Mars, according to NASA.

That was just some of the information that Keaty and Stone shared with visitors to the library. The lunar disc contained fragments of rock and soil samples found on the planet.

Keaty and Stone, who was accompanied by her grandson, Killian Luckhard, 9, of Orland Park, were delighted that the program interested so many residents.

“It was fun and I’m glad we did this,” Keaty said. “It is educational and I think everyone is enjoying this.”