By Ariel Graham | DFW Newsflash | July 2019
Space enthusiasts from all over DFW celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing during the Frontiers of Flight Museum’s annual Moon Day celebration on Saturday, July 20.
Presented in collaboration with the National Space Society of North Texas, Moon Day is the largest space-themed exposition in Texas and one of the biggest events of the year for Frontiers of Flight. Families enjoyed a variety of educational activities highlighting space travel and technology. The event featured a keynote address from Astronaut John E. Blaha and a special presentation of the film “The Day We Walked on the Moon.”
“Today is a great day to reflect on history and how important moon travel was for us,” Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, CEO of Frontiers of Flight Museum, said. “We want to look forward. We want these kids to understand how important aerospace is, how important STEM, science, technology, engineering and math and that focus is. Kids and their families are learning, having fun, and focusing on STEM.”
This year’s event held even more significance as it coincided with an historic event: the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
“Part of the reason Apollo 11 was so important is it was the first moon landing,” Sutterfield-Jones said. “The fact the United States did that is significant. If you think about it, we’d never landed on another planet before, and the fact that we had the science and technology to be able to do that, and we achieved that first is amazing. Nobody knew what the moon would be like. They didn’t know when they landed, if it would be soft or what. They learned so much in that first mission about the soil and about landing, and they knew they could go back. All of that research was critical for us to continue space travel.”
Many of the attendees, like as Ann and Charlie Rodriguez, have fond memories of the day Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface.
“My mother got me up for it, because I was in like third grade, second grade, something like that,” Charlie said. “It was amazing watching the first steps on another planet.”
“We were glued to the TV when we were kids,” Ann said. “We watched everything we possibly could. And when I was in school, my science teacher would turn [the moon landing] on the TV. We would watch it in class, and she would ask us questions about it.”
Jess Hall, vice president of development for Frontiers of Flight, said the moon landing had a significant impact on people all over the world.
“[The Apollo 11 moon landing] is something that’s seared in the minds of all of us who were old enough to understand that at the time that it happened,” Hall said. “This event commemorates that. It’s one of the reasons we call it ‘Moon Day.’ It’s really about space and about all that’s been accomplished and will be accomplished.”
Like many of the museum’s outreach events, Moon Day was designed not only to celebrate the history of space travel, but also to inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts to pursue careers in the STEM fields.
“We have a huge shortage of people who are trained in the STEM fields,” Hall said. “There are job openings that remain unfilled because people do not have the skills. We want to encourage the next generation to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There are great, wonderful, exciting careers in those fields.
“We translate the theory of why they’re learning these things in the classroom to how they’re actually applied. They get to see at this event how those things that are kind of dry and maybe not that interesting to learn in the classroom can really be applied and fun to learn.”
Sutterfield-Jones hopes events like Moon Day can show kids how exciting a career in aerospace can be.
“Students need to understand there is a whole career ahead of them in aerospace,” Sutterfield-Jones said. “There’s just no telling what kids could be. That doesn’t mean they’re all going to be astronauts. We need engineers, we need researchers, we need every kind of career. If kids can come out and be exposed to that, then we’re building the next generation.”