Zac Norton is a Propulsion Engineer at Northrop Grumman, which means that he designs and tests rocket motors that are used in real rockets that NASA sends into space. He is also a member of Ahavas Torah in Scottsdale.
Mr. Norton came to talk to the Fours classes at the end of a unit they did on Outer Space.
As part of the unit, Morah Shoshana Brick arranged so many fun and stimulating activities for the children, like painting a rocket in the playground, playing with sparkling galaxy playdough and making moon rocks out of baking soda and water. The children learned about the way the earth rotates around the sun, by making a Styrofoam planet earth, and then using a flashlight to show that when the light is shining on it is day, and then the parts where the light is not shining it is night. During the unit, Morah Brick taught the children about scientists and the scientific process.
At the end of the unit, Mr. Norton, whom Morah Brick knows from Scottsdale, came to talk to the children about his job as a rocket scientist and to answer questions that they had about space.
The children asked many insightful questions.
“Why is there no gravity in space?” asked Torah Tot Ari Ungar. (The answer is there is still gravity in space, it is just not as strong as it is here on earth.)
“How do you build a rocket?” Torah Tot Mendel Miller wanted to know.
“How do the rockets give the food to the astronauts?” asked Fabulous Four Aliza Rothstein. Mr. Norton explained that at the very end of the rocket, the last rocket pocket has the food. When the rocket is all out of fire and it is safe, that pocket goes up next to the space station, the pocket connects to the space station, and then the astronauts can get their food!
Eitan Aharonov asked Mr. Norton why he wasn’t an astronaut. The answer? He is too tall. You have to be under 6 feet tall to be an astronaut.
“Am I too big to be an astronaut?” Eitan followed up.
“No,” said Mr. Norton. “You are just the right size!”
At the end of the talk, Mr. Norton prepared bottle rockets by putting baking soda and vinegar in a corked plastic bottle. The cork was there to help the pressure build.
The class brought the bottles outside, and Mr. Norton placed them at the top of the little hill in the preschool playground. The class watched as the pressure got stronger and stronger inside the bottle.
Standing back, the children counted down, ‘Five, four, three, two, one… Blast off!”
The bottle shot up straight into the air, flying above the electrical wires, and landing over the preschool fence.
It was the perfect “wow” moment to end the fascinating unit on space!
TDSP would like to thank Mr. Zac Norton for visiting our school and providing our Fours classes with such an enlightening lesson. We hope you will come again! Thank you also to Morah Shoshana Brick for organizing the visit.