Children see stars at Countryside Nursery School in space week

FAIRVIEW

By KACIE FLYNN

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Understanding and making sense of outer space can be difficult. Sometimes, you just have to call in an expert.

Last week, the week of Feb. 28, Countryside Nursery School, 1320 S. Fairview Road, wrapped up its space-themed curriculum with astronomy educator Melanie Knocke.

Knocke spoke to the afternoon class of pre-school children in the basement of the nursery school which, for last week at least, doubled as a space station. The school put together one in which students could play and could imagine being real.

After the children huddled on the alphabet carpet to listen, Knocke explained phenomena such as the moon, Jupiter, black holes and the Seven Sisters star cluster.

Knocke is accustomed to these kinds of events. She gives similar presentations to Columbia Public School students at Rock Bridge High School’s planetarium.

“I’m a ham,” Knocke said. “Just give me an audience and I can do a show.”

Knocke has been presenting to the students at the nursery for a while. She worked there for two months not long ago when her son attended the school.

For 25 minutes, the children stared intently at the slide show Knocke played on her computer. Even though comments and questions were supposed to wait until later, some children couldn’t wait.

“Is there aliens in space?” one girl asked before being hushed by teachers.

But the interruption didn’t bother Knocke.

“The kids are just great,” she said, “and they seem to really be interested in learning about outer space.”

Countryside Nursery School will begin its transportation-themed curriculum this week, the week of March 7.

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