Elementary school students talk to the Space Force Guardian

DAVISVILLE, W.Va. – The guest from Kanawha Elementary School showed third-graders a photo of a desolate rock formation on Tuesday and asked them what they thought it was.

One suggested a landslide. Another said a battlefield.

A couple thought about who they were talking to and made the correct guess: the surface of Mars.

Lt. Col. Christopher Evey, a Space Force Warden, spoke virtually to third, fourth and fifth graders at the school, explaining how the math and science they learn translates into careers like his and the others. For example, geologists are studying images like the one he shared to learn more about the Red Planet.

“It’s very similar to some of the things we see here on Earth,” Evey said. “It’s not just math and spaceships; there are other sciences that we can use that you may want to consider for your future career.

Evey spent 18 years in the Air Force before joining the Space Force, which was formed in 2019 as a separate military branch. It is organized under the Department of Air Force in the same way as the Marine Corps under the Department of the Navy.

An engineer, Evey has worked on the design and construction of spacecraft, satellites and rockets. He sent videos ahead of time for students to view and answered their questions on a variety of topics.

Third-grader AnnaBelle Johnson asked if the Space Force has cameras capable of watching people. Evey said there are cameras attached to the satellites that can be used to map or collect information on everything from flood control to agricultural issues.

“How do you drive a spaceship? Third-grader Dreyden Kirk asked.

Evey said the space shuttles once used by NASA were operated by people using computers. Satellites are operated from control centers and follow coding to perform the mission and keep equipment operational, such as maintaining orbit.

“The closer something is to Earth and the upper atmosphere, it will pull something into the atmosphere and it will burn,” Evey explained.

One of the videos Evey sent concerned the Falcon Heavy rocket built by private company SpaceX, parts of which are reusable. Third-grader Owen McFee asked how long it took to build.

Evey, who visited the California plant where the work was performed, said it typically takes eight to 12 months to build a rocket thruster, while satellites take two to three years to build.

“If it’s brand new, you’ve got to find a design,” he said. “You’re probably talking about four to six years it takes to design a space system. “

Third-grader Kaden Hamerick asked if people need to take a test to join the Space Force. Evey said there were tests for every branch of the military. He compared it to the exams students face and how they prove their knowledge and help determine the courses they take as they advance.

“Everyone has to take tests, and it all really depends on the choices you’re going to have,” he said.

Third grade student Nic Walker enjoyed the presentation, especially when Evey used a map to show the students where he lives in Virginia in relation to the location of their school and some rocket launch sites.

“You have to see all the places and where he lived and where the NASA places are,” Walker said. “I think I could be a space keeper when I’m older. “

Kanawha principal Matt Null said he appreciated the opportunity for students to speak with Evey as part of a multi-subject activity.

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