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Victoria museum celebrates 45th anniversary of moon landing

By Johnathan Silver
July 19, 2014 at 2:19 a.m.
Updated July 20, 2014 at 2:20 a.m.

Visitors Richard DiLeo; his wife, Joanna DiLeo; and their grandson, Orlando DiLeo, look at the moon landing exhibit during Moon Day at the Museum of the Coastal Bend on Victoria College's campus Saturday. The museum hosted activities for children and opened an exhibit to commemorate the moon landing's 45th anniversary.

"Victoria, we have a problem."

Just doesn't sound the same, does it?

The quote, a deviation from the actual words during the Apollo 13 mission, would have been uttered had NASA officials who visited Victoria in 1961 looking for a space center site chose the Crossroads over Houston.

That and more information was on display Saturday at the Museum of the Coastal Bend on the Victoria College campus as part of Moon Day. The museum celebrated 45 years since American astronauts on Apollo 11 first landed on the moon in 1969.

Visitors, mostly children, had the opportunity to see a fun side of more technical fields, explained Isabel Van Dyke, the museum's curator of education and public programs. That's one reason it's important to have interactivity and something relatable in connection to these fields, she said.

"'Hey, this is a career I can do,'" she said some children might realize when learning about science- and engineering-heavy industries. "'I can be an engineer.'"

The event featured information about the moon landing and the role Texas played in it. Also, visitors participated in activities illustrating the allure of space travel and activities related to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Visitors could align an interactive, separated, laminated version of the Saturn V, a rocket used to send astronauts into space during the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s. On the other side of the museum, a model lunar lander challenge was underway, requiring guests to build a container around a pingpong ball and keep it intact as it was released a meter above the floor. Visitors also could build a paper rocket, launching it by blowing through a straw.

Also, taped parts of the floor illustrated the size of the Apollo 11 lunar module - 14 feet by 13.3 feet - and how much space - 160 cubic feet - astronauts on the mission had in the top half of the module used to get back to the command module, which returned them to Earth.

Lufkin resident Destiny Boyd, 17, said the activities and information on display for Moon Day made her wonder, "What if I went up there?" and what would it take to grow accustomed to being in space.

Though it's intriguing, being an astronaut is not her first choice for a career.

"I'm about the doctor life," she said. "If I don't become a doctor, I'd try it."

Houston resident Kaitlyn Meza, 10, built a model spaceship and mulled what a trip off this rock would entail.

"I'd be floating up and down," she said, adding that she'd want to see other planets, especially Jupiter, her favorite because "it's colorful."

Kaitlyn's twin, Kierstin Meza, also 10 and from Houston, added she enjoyed learning about space and wouldn't mind discovering planets. She has her career path narrowed down to two options: being an artist or a scientist.

"I love to draw. People say I'm good at drawing," she said, adding that events like Moon Day give her more creative inspiration.

As for being a scientist, Kierstin said she'd want to make a big difference.

"I want to create something new."

Related story:

Buzz Aldrin: Where were you when I walked on moon?

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