Balko School

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Balko students work with

Apollo 13 heroes for project

Three days after classes began in August, five Middle school and High School students from Balko Public Schools were working side by side with Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, Skylab astronaut Jack Lousma, and Apollo 13 Flight Directors Gerry Griffin, Wilt Windler, and Glynn Lunney as participants in the "Apollo 13 Redux" program at the CosmoSphere International Science Education Center and Space Museum in Hutchison Kansas. Along with ninety-five other, mostly adult, participants, the students assumed the roles of back-up flight controllers, astronauts and contract engineers to solve an equipment failure that threatened to abort a simulated moon landing mission.

"Meeting with and being taught by the Apollo 13 astronauts was one of the greatest experiences I have had," said High School Student Anthony McCurley, "but even better was realizing that we could hold our own with the adults on our team. We presented our information and opinions confidently and they took us seriously and included us as equal partners. It was a challenging and personally validating experience for all of us."

Participants in the program were divided into teams of ten. Members of each team assumed a specialized role as either a mission control flight controller, an engineer who helped design the spacecraft, or a member of the backup crew. Working under the pressure of realistic countdown to mission abort, the participants received briefings from the Apollo 13 astronauts and Flight directors relevant to their assigned roles to help them identify possible causes for the crises and possible solutions. Each team then created a mission procedure that was presented to the entire group for evaluation.

"Participating in programs like this engages our students and benefits them in two important ways." said Balko Superintendent Larry Mills. "They allow the students to experience the real world applications of the lessons that they are taught in the classroom, making them relevant to the students’ understanding of the world. Also, these programs have the power to inspire students to dream larger and reach higher, they allow the students to become interested and excited about their futures in ways they may not have thought about before and to see themselves as capable participants in those fields and careers".

March 2105

Balko students win national "moon mail" contest

The creative works of two students at Balko High School will soon find a permanent repository - on the moon, courtesy of Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology.

The company, which is planning to make the first ever commercial moon landing, announced in December that Balko School and its 155 students as the winner of its first MoonMail contest.

As part of its landing, the company is establishing a service called MoonMail, through it will tote small keepsakes, things like rings and photographs to the moon’s surface where they will be permanently left.

"We received numerous heartfelt stories that made it very difficult to decide on just one winner," Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said. "The entry of Balko School captured the goal of the MoonMail program, which is to inspire and allow people from around the world to have a personal connection to the moon, now and for generations to come."

In making the pitch to be selected, the school wrote:

"Some students never look up the invitation of the cosmos at all, seeing their future as locked to the land and to this place. We believe that the inclusion of our video card in this lunar mission will be a beacon for all the young people of Balko, Oklahoma; establishing our permanent presence in the infinite universe and staking an undeniable claim to both a place in, and our ability to contribute to, the future of Humankind. For those students whose gaze is ever downward and earthbound, there will now be a reason to gaze into those heavens. When they do, they will know that Balko students could and did touch the face of the moon."

Hanna Parker and Colton Lentz wrote an essay that allowed Balko to be chosen. They will send an SD card filled with photos, poetry and other memories from the school.


Reading for Thanksgiving. Before last week's Thanksgiving Break, students at Balko High School participated in a reading day in the basketball gym

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