Moon Rocks Arrive

News Story: May 23, 2007

Students  Study Moon Rocks at Moon Base Alpha 
People’s Bank Hosts Moon Rocks on May 25
Sponsored by The Discovery Museum and People’s Bank

Romeo vowed by the moon, Native Americans named their months by the moon, Neil Armstrong walked on it. The mystery and intrigue of Earth’s solitary satellite has resonated with human beings for centuries.   Area students and residents had a once in a lifetime opportunity to view moon rocks first hand when lunar rocks brought back in 1969 by astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin were showcased at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, and on exhibit at People’s Bank in Bridgeport.            

On May 22nd and 23rd, 350 5th grade students from Bridgeport, Monroe and Trumbull studied the moon rocks after erecting their own life-sized lunar village, Moon Base Alpha, at Sacred Heart University.   Moon Base Alpha is the culmination of a yearlong interdistrict science program called Totally Extreme Adventures in Math and Science (T.E.A.M.S.) that was developed by the Discovery Museum and funded by the Connecticut State Department of Education through C.E.S. in Trumbull.  The six meeting program trained the students to fly computer simulated space shuttle missions to the moon in the museum’s Challenger Learning Center.  When the students successfully completed their missions, Discovery staff challenged the children to plan and build a moon-based community capable of sustaining human life for two years on the inhospitable lunar surface.  Moon Base Alpha is the result.

This year, moon rocks on loan from NASA (National Aeronautic Space Administration) arrived from their safe-keeping vault at People’s Bank.  Delivered by armored truck and accompanied by educators from the Discovery Museum who have undergone special training by NASA in order to handle them, students viewed the moon rocks first hand.  The program  took place at the Pitt Center at Sacred Heart University

An engineer from Hamilton Sundstrand attired in an authentic space suit, complete with oxygen tank received the moon rocks from the armored truck and People’s Bank representatives.  A forty-five minute period was devoted to educating children about space exploration, the requirements of sustaining human life in space through space suit technology, and the appreciation of moon artifacts from the historic Apollo mission.

The Discovery Museum’s Executive Director, Linda Malkin, says that it’s unusual to have an opportunity to view the moon rocks.  “I’m unaware of moon rocks being in Fairfield County on any other occasion,” she said, explaining that certified handlers must undergo specialized training from NASA in order to handle and keep the rocks, and that NASA recommends a bank vault be used for safekeeping.  “We wanted to bring them to the children of this region so that they could experience first hand the magic and mystery of the moon,” she explained, “and People’s Bank offered to place them in their vault for safekeeping overnight.”

On Friday, May 25th, the moon rocks will be available to the public at the People’s Bank Branch at 850 Main Street in Bridgeport, from 10 a.m to 3 p.m.  Museum educators will be on hand to safeguard the rocks and to explain their significance to the general public.  A microscope will be on hand for viewing the rocks, along with information on the moon. 

“NASA stipulates that a bank vault is the safest place to store the moon rocks  as they travel to cities throughout the country, and when The Discovery Museum asked us to help them protect the rocks, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to safeguard a national treasure,” said Parry Spahr, senior vice president, Corporate Community Relations for People’s Bank.  “We encourage our customers and the public to take advantage of this very unique opportunity to view the rocks when they are on display in our downtown Bridgeport office at 850 Main Street,” Spahr said.  “We’re proud to have a small part in introducing children to this special part of American space history.”

The Discovery Museum and Planetarium's mission is to educate, excite, and engage visitors in the exploration of science, technology, and ideas through interactive experiences that promote new insights. The Museum seeks to enhance public understanding of science and technology by providing instructive experiences encouraging participant interaction with hands-on physical science exhibits, planetarium programs, the Challenger Learning Center and various other educational offerings. The Museum provides a broad range of educational programs in science and technology, as well as in the area where the two disciplines interact. Last year over 68,000 young people enjoyed its many interactive exhibits and educational programs.

Founded in 1842, People’s Bank (peoples.com) is one of Connecticut’s largest banks with assets of $14 billion, more than 240 ATMs and 159 branches, 75 of which offer convenient seven-day banking in Super Stop & Shop locations across the state. A diversified financial services company, People’s Bank provides consumer, commercial, insurance, retail investment and wealth management and trust services to personal and business banking customers.  People’s Bank is the official banking partner of the University of Connecticut’s Division of Athletics. For more information about People’s, its products and services, please call 800-772-1090, visit peoples.com or any of People’s branches.