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  • Camp Mission: Inspiration

    Camp Mission: Inspiration

    June 29, 2018

    It’s a steamy June morning in the middle of Kansas.  Cosmosphere campers from Space 501 are hunched over rectangles of cold, pressed clay at the ClayWorks building in downtown McPherson.  They are working on space-inspired artwork with Disability Supports of the Great Plains (DSGP) artists who are adults with developmental disabilities.

    “Try to focus,” says Mary, a DSGP client and artist instructor.  “This takes time….it doesn’t always go right,” she adds.

    Sierra Green, a camper from Haven, KS, is carving a shuttle into her clay.  “I’m not very artistically inclined,” she says.  “This is definitely a learning experience for me!”

    In fact, many of the campers are unsure of their artistic ability.  “I came up with my idea on the spot,” says Andrew Swift, a camper from Overland Park, KS.  “May have too much detail…” his thought trails off.

    But the encouragement keeps coming.

    “Do the best you can,” instructs Kayla, another DSGP client to the campers she’s working with.  “Take ideas from things you see or hear and create your artwork from that.”

    The art project is new this summer for the Space 501 camp, but as Cosmosphere Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Tracey Tomme explains, it helps fulfill the mission of making all programming at the Cosmosphere more inclusive.

    “We feel it’s valuable for our students to understand the skill sets and creativity these artists bring to the table,” says Tomme.  “Sometimes these students are so bogged down learning the concepts of math and science they forget about the importance of artistic expression.  We think blending our future engineers and scientists with more creative thinkers who see the world differently makes everyone’s lives brighter.”

    Camp counselor, Blake Lee, agrees.  “I think this is a really cool collaboration,” he says.  “I’ve seen more smiles in the last hour than sometimes I see all camp!”

    Lee adds that more than just artistic ability is being stretched by this project.  “This is 180 degrees from the ‘normal’ socialization at camp, too.  Generally, (the campers) are socializing with people who are very similar to them.  This is a completely different situation and really pushing these kids out of their comfort zone.”

    “We’re all nerds here—meeting new people is very hard,” notes Swift.  “So, this is a good experience and is challenging me socially.”

    Soon, the carvings are completed and campers begin to lightly coat the clay in red, blue and grey paint.  One-by-one, the art pieces are handed over to the DSGP artists for the final stage of kiln firing and the science-minded campers are able to step back and admire their work.

    “I had low expectations for myself,” says Swift.  “This turned out better than I imagined,” he says happily.

    Then the campers load up on busses to begin their next Cosmosphere camp adventure: a trip to California for tours of the California Science Center, the Griffith Observatory, the space shuttle Endeavor, Edwards Air Force Base and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Armstrong Flight Research Center.

    On the last day of the camp session, the students will return to Hutchinson and the two groups of new friends will once again meet up.  This time for bowling and fun at the Alley, where the practiced DSGP artists will present the finished pieces to their understudies, and the project and camp will be complete…at least until next year.

Upcoming Events

  • Calling all students grades 4-12!
    May 1 – September 30
    More Details
  • Learn to Fly Your Drone: The Basics
    September 29
    More Details
  • Coffee at the Cosmo: The Restoration of MOCR and the Cosmosphere’s Role
    October 18
    More Details
  • Calling all students grades 4-12!

    Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2018

    Earth v the International Space Station Agriculture Contest

    Grow your way to Cosmosphere Aerospace Camp!

    Students fourth through twelfth grades are invited to take on the ISS in a competition to grow the most food within a one cubic meter garden space.

    A winner from each grade category below receives a camp package for 2019 summer camp season and will be recognized at the Cosmosphere this fall.

    Going into 4th - 6th Grade

    Going into 7th - 8th Grade

    Going into 9th - 12th Grade

    Contest starts May 1 and runs through September 30, 2018.

    We will be sharing our results with our Kansas Astronaut Col. Nick Hague while he is on the ISS!

    How It Works: Any student who wants to participate needs to carefully read the rules, set-up their garden, collect the required data, and turn in all results to the Cosmosphere at on or before September 30, 2018. 

    Click here to download the Space Ag Contest rules and entry form!


    Q. Can a plant trail outside of the cubic meter area? 
    A. No.  All of the growing area including roots and plant must remain inside the cubic meter area.

    Q. Is it okay to plant vines along with other plants?
    A.  Yes.  You can plant any combination of plants you chose.

    Q. Must the light source also be in the cubic meter?
    A. No.  It may be above and can be natural such as sunlight or you can use a grow light.

    Q. Does the cubic meter area have to be a cube?
    A.  No.  It can be any shape as long as the total volume is only one cubic meter.

    Q. Can you add water?
    A.  Yes.  It does not have to be a closed system.  You may use water as you wish.  (Don’t tell our astronaut friends!)  Since the system does not have to be closed, water will be lost depending on wind and heat so we are not limiting how much water can be used.

    Q.  Does the cubic meter have to be a built structure?
    A.  No.  you just need to measure and make sure the growing area (roots and plant) are all within a cubic meter volumetric area.

    Q.  Is it okay to use a plant light?
    A.  Yes.  Any light source is acceptable.

    Q. Do the roots count as part of the cubic meter?
    A. Yes, the entire plant including any leaves and roots, are included and must be inside of the cubic meter area.

  • Early Closing of the Lobby and Main Entrance at 5 pm

    Date: Thursday, September 27, 2018 5:00 PM – 11:59 PM

    The Cosmosphere's main entrance, naviGATOR simulator and lobby will be closing early to the General Public on Thursday, September 27 at 5:00 p.m. for a private event. The Carey Digital Dome Theater shows after 5:00 pm will play as scheduled. The Hall of Space Museum and Gift Store are open until 7:00 pm.

    Please use the alternate entrance to the North of the main entrance, by the Richard E. Smith Science Center.

  • Learn to Fly Your Drone: The Basics

    Date: Saturday, September 29, 2018 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    Location:Cosmosphere Banquet Room and Drone Drome

    Join us Saturday, September 29 in the Banquet Room, as Space Science Educator's teach you the basics of drone safety, maintenance, operation, and troubleshooting for beginners. 

    The class will begin in the banquet room and continue at the “Drone Drome,” sponsored by the University of Kansas School of Engineering, for practice using the Cosmosphere’s small drones. 

    Admission will be free with registration at the door.

    For questions, contact Chuck McClary at or 620.665.9340.

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