The third installment of ED’s summer series Let’s Read! Let’s Move! blasted into space at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on July 23.
Secretary Arne Duncan read The Astronaut’s Handbook, by Meghan McCarthy, with chief curator of the National Air and Space Museum Peter Jakab, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri, and Carla Hall, chef and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew.”
“A book in your hand is more powerful than any space engine,” Jakab said.
With eyes fixated on the rockets and spaceships hanging from the ceiling, students from youth centers and schools throughout the Washington, D.C., area filed into the Space Race gallery.
Clad in personally decorated astronaut helmets, they listened closely to the book’s themes of hard work, good study skills, and the keys to being a team player.
In addition to the book reading, there was a Mission to Mars puppet show and a question and answer session where kids quizzed the panel on the rules for pets on spaceships and the travel time from Earth to outer space.
Chef Carla’s food demonstration taught kids about fruits and vegetables that can be eaten in space, after she and the MusicianShip marching band led the students to the Let’s Move! activities featuring a group dance.
“It’s wonderful to broaden kids’ minds and to be at an event where you can find education in new ways,” Hall remarked.
The YMCA’s Physically Healthy and Driven program volunteers led the Let’s Move! activities including “exercise like astronauts,” where kids did commander crunches, pilot push-ups and competed in a shopping cart health food races before picking up a book bag and complimentary children’s book donated by Target.
The next and last Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event is scheduled for July 30. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children.
Molly Block is a rising senior at the University of Michigan. She is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.