Northumberland Public Library's Space Camp Had Successful Launch

About a dozen young boys and girls had an out-of-this-world experience for four days in mid-August at the Northumberland Public Library. But while the destination was space, their feet never left the ground.

They journeyed to distant worlds during the library’s first-ever Space Camp August 11-15. Library staff and volunteer helpers ran an exciting, informative program that began with the history of space flight and ended with a bottle rocket launch outside the library. In between, they made models of planets, absorbed facts about space (including a daily nugget of information called a Space Capsule) and even constructed rovers – robots that could explore other worlds.

Those who helped make the camp a big success included Library Director Alice Cooper, Coordinator of Children’s Programs Jan Bates, Kyndia Riley, a member of the Summer Staff, and volunteer helpers Anna Whiting and Lance Marston. It was like old home week for Marston, who was an executive at NASA for nine years, from 1961-1970, at the height of the space race.

“The children are very bright,” Marston said after the kids displayed their rovers and gave a brief description of their function in the waning moments of Space Camp. The rovers – built with everything  from egg cartons, straws, plastic food containers and jar lids to pencils, empty soda bottles and cardboard – had names that included USA, Hero, Awesomeness, Awesome and Wall-E.

Brady Mullins, 9, said he liked “everything” about the camp and expressed interest in becoming an astronaut when he grows up. His rover was Hero, and it was “powered”  by Nick, a small module that was piggybacked on top.

Library Director Cooper said the camp was a good example of  STEM (Science, Technology,  Engineering and Math) educational programming. “A good time was had by all…and some learning, too!” she said.

“It was really fun,” said Hallie Shackleford, 10. Her favorite event was making the bottle rockets – small plastic bottles that were launched by stomping on a larger plastic bottle. This generated a burst of  compressed air that went through a plastic pipe to provide the rocket fuel.


Each launch was proceeded by a countdown –  “5! 4! 3! 2! 1!” – shouted by the campers. Then the rocket left the launching pad. Some fizzled at liftoff, barely leaving the ground. But others rose into the air and soared to an altitude of  at least 12 feet.

Photo by Don Hirst – Campers, staff and volunteers give a big thumbs-up at the end of the four-day event.