Sam Thompson

A field trip to space!

When teachers probably enjoy a day out more than the students

Last week, I had the opportunity to help take our Mathayom 1-3 students (grades 7-9) to the "NASA: A Human Adventure, The Exhibition," that's going on at Central Ladprao shopping mall (not far from BTS Mo Chit and/or MRT Phahon Yothin) from December-February.

I haven't been on a field trip since the 6th grade (my county in the US put a stop to them years ago due to expenses and liability issues), and it was interesting to be "on the other side of the fence," so to say.

I teach science, but each year Astronomy (my personal favorite subject) is taught only to the M3s during the very last term, and is thus far overshadowed by the impending doom of the M3 O-NET standardized exams during around the same time.

I can confidently say that the other foreign teacher and I that accompanied our 100ish students (alongside several Thai teachers) enjoyed the expo far more than most of the students, although at least a few students appreciated the experience too.

If you've ever visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., this won't absolutely wow you; most of the material showcased in the exhibits consists of reproductions, but if you're a space and/or history buff like me, it is still quite interesting.

The students all received modified iPods of some sort that acted as audio guides to all of the exhibits, although everything is also written in both English and Thai.

I was surprised to learn a good deal about the various types of rockets and lunar landers that have been used since the 1950s, and was even more intrigued that the exhibit also paid homage to a good deal of the Russian space program's endeavors, something that is often left out of American textbooks. Typical.

The convention center at Central Ladprao (I believe they call it the BCC Hall) has essentially been converted into a combination museum/hands-on science fair. While I showed my age and enjoyed the history/museum segment best, the students obviously liked the second part best: hands-on simulations of various space related science activities including an effects of gravity station, centrifugal force/G-force simulator (operated by an American, I noticed), and a walk-up view of the cockpit of a Space Shuttle reproduction.

I honestly don't know the price of regular admission as my school paid for my entry, but if you're a space buff and are looking for something you don't often find in Thailand (space exploration and history both), I'd definitely say it's worth a look.

It seemed to be particularly popular with English Programs at various government schools around our area (I'm sure there is a large group discount), as our group of 100+ students was only a part of the hundreds of students taking part. Although I couldn't see a group of Western (specifically, American) students that large being able to behave in such an environment, this is Thailand, and in my experience students tend to be more well-mannered in public... likely because they have no choice.

All in all, it was a great experience. If you're interested, a simple internet search can provide details from Thai Ticket Major.

I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.


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