ISRAEL’S FIRST ASTRONAUT, Col. Ilan Ramon, was among those who died in the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in February 2003.
The shuttle was a multi-discipline mission to conduct microgravity and earth science research during its 16 days on orbit.
To commemorate the 11th anniversary of the tragedy, on Jan. 28 fifth- and eighth-grade students at Golda Och Academy in West Orange recreated the Chemical Garden experiment performed by Ramon during the mission. This is the third year of the program held during Israel Space Week, dedicated to the astronaut’s memory.
Students watched a video about Ramon’s contributions to Israel’s space program. They carried out the experiment by pouring sodium silicate into glass cylinders and adding salt, water, and colored granules. They transferred the mixture into containers to await the formation of crystals. The experiment had been suggested to Ramon by Israeli students and was performed in the shuttle soon after takeoff.
GOA students and teachers were joined by Roey Harel and Marina Kaplun, leaders of the Israeli Scouts of Greater MetroWest; Moshe Levi, community shaliah at the Legow Family Israel Program Center of Greater MetroWest; and Dr. Lynne B Harrison, community leader and school benefactor who is investing in the school’s forthcoming STEM program, who spoke about SpaceIL, an Israel-based organization dedicated to landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon.
According to GOA director of Israel programming Lilach Bluevise, the Chemical Garden activity this year also took place at GOA’s partner school in Merchavim, Israel.