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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

  • Liberty Bell 7 Spacecraft to Splashdown at Cosmosphere
    June 16 – December 31
    More Details
  • August Back to School Splashdown Discount!
    August 1 – August 31
    More Details
  • Coffee at the Cosmo: Liberty Bell 7
    August 20
    More Details
  • Liberty Bell 7 Spacecraft to Splashdown at Cosmosphere

    Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2020
    Location:Cosmosphere Lobby

    Liberty Bell 7 is set to splashdown at the Cosmosphere, following nearly six years of being on exhibit throughout the world.  Beginning Tuesday, June 16, visitors to the Smithsonian-affiliated space museum in Hutchinson, KS, will have the opportunity to get up close to an amazing piece of space history when the Mercury spacecraft, which took the second U.S. astronaut into space, returns to its home museum.  The craft will be on display in the Cosmosphere Grand Lobby through the remainder of 2020.

    For more information on Liberty Bell 7 go here

  • August Back to School Splashdown Discount!

    Date: Saturday, August 01, 2020

    Celebrate the end of summer and take advantage of the “Back-to-School Splashdown” discount at the Cosmosphere!


    *To take advantage of this offer, you must mention the “back-to-school” discount upon purchase.  Discount only available through in-person ticket sales or by phone at 620.665.9312. Educators will be asked to show their school ID.  No ID is required for children. No limit on the number of children or educators per family.

  • Coffee at the Cosmo: Liberty Bell 7

    Date: Thursday, August 20, 2020 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

    This will be a virtual presentation only. Join us live on our Facebook page on the day of the event or on Zoom at

    Grab your mug of Joe, sit back in the comfort of your own home and enjoy this free presentation titled, "Liberty Bell 7: The Peril and Promise of Space Exploration," with Cosmosphere President and CEO, Jim Remar. This presentation will be presented in front of the actual Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft!

    Attendees will learn the story of how astronaut Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 was recovered from the ocean floor in 1999 after spending nearly 40 years submerged at a depth of more than 15,000 feet (deeper than the Titanic).  SpaceWorks, a division of the Cosmosphere, helped to retrieve and conserve the craft to the state it appears in today. Liberty Bell 7 is owned by the Cosmosphere, making it the only privately owned American spacecraft. The Cosmosphere is among only four museums worldwide to have a flown set of manned Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft.

    *Coffee at the Cosmo topics and speakers are subject to change.

    Thank you to our corporate partners:
    Airshare, Evergy, The Clayworks of Disability Supports, KU School of Engineering and RCB Bank

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