To the moon and back: NASA Apollo exhibit visits Mt. Vernon High School, is display through Dec. 13

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Thanks to a collaboration between Main Street Arts & Music at the Carnegie in Fortville and the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation, local residents have an opportunity to view NASA artifacts in the traveling exhibit “Apollo and the Next Giant Leap.”

The exhibit opened at the Mt. Vernon High School Media Center Nov. 6 and will remain open through Dec. 13. Portions of the exhibit also are on display at Main Street Arts & Music at the Carnegie, 115 N. Main St., Fortville.
Mt. Vernon Education Foundation Executive Director Renee Oldham said the exhibit was brought to Fortville through a joint effort.

“It was actually a collaboration with the Fortville art gallery who approached us in May and asked if we would have interest in collaborating with them,” Oldham said. “Following up with that conversation, I went to talk to our superintendent and our principals to see about their interest and availability and how it aligns with our curriculum and current programming they were doing, so it just snowballed from there.”

Several months later, the opportunity arose for Mt. Vernon Community Schools to display the exhibit in the high school media center, 8112 N. 200 W., Fortville.

The “Apollo and the Next Giant Leap” exhibit showcases NASA’s Apollo lunar missions. The exhibit includes artifacts and other items, such as NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System, and items astronauts brought from the moon. A piece of moon rock was displayed only on opening night only.

Oldham and Mt. Vernon High School Principal Casey Dodd said the exhibit aligns with MVCSC’s STEM-certified district programming.

“It has been extremely positive,” Dodd said of student reaction. “Our opening night brought several different community members and several students. Over the course of a couple weeks it has been open, several of our students there at the high school will actually request to go over and view it.

“The other advantage is, where it’s located there are large glass windows to the main hallway, so as students are walking by, they are constantly able to see it. That leads to several going in and taking a closer look.” 

The exhibit is open throughout the school day for students. Community remembers can view the exhibit by appointment. To make an appointment, call the Mt. Vernon High School front office at 317-485-3131.

“(The display) was a natural fit for us as we continue to expand our STEM opportunities for our students,” Dodd said. “It emphasizes things we are discussing and learning about in classes, and to be able to see real-world application like this, which took so much technology and math and done wonderful things with it, it’s a great opportunity for our students to then see that.

“Not only does it feature different items from the missions themselves, but there’s a separate display where technology developed on or for the mission, it shows how we now use that in day-to-day life.”

Encouraging further education

Mt. Vernon Education Foundation Executive Director Renee Oldham noted an inspirational experience  she observed during the opening night of “Apollo and the Next Giant Leap.” It happened when she saw a NASA employee speaking with a female student.

“The young woman dreamt of being a meteorologist, and she was intrigued by the whole NASA programming,” Oldham said. “The employee really encouraged her and shared all kinds of opportunities available in the NASA programming, and to see that child light up about possibilities she never thought were possible without that conversation was personally rewarding.”

MVCSC Director of Community Relations Maria Bond said the reception has been positive from a district standpoint.

“It’s been truly a pleasure to be able to bring this opportunity to our students and our school district, and it is really reaching beyond our school district into the community to explore this education with NASA,” Bond said.

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