Take Israel to the Moon

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Israel going to the moon? Between Israel's desire to land the smallest rocket on the moon and the story of famous Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, campers have the opportunity to explore the elements that make up their Jewish identity in the context of exploration and pioneering. This is a great program whether you have a rocketry program or not.

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Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first and only astronaut, died when the space shuttle Columbia crashed in 2003
Among other Jewish items, Ramon brought a miniature Torah scroll given to him by a Holocaust survivor into space
SpaceIL is an example of another effort that is putting Israel's unique stamp on technological advancement


Part 1: The Israeli Space Program

  • Spend about 10 minutes introducing campers to Ilan Ramon and the SpaceIL program (see attached resources). Highlight parts of the stories below that are important and tailored for age-appropriateness, but be sure to note the items that Ilan Ramon took into space, as it is important later in the activity portion.
  • Questions to end the Opening Activity (time permitting - the first question is the most important for the rest of the activity):
    • Why do you think Ilan Ramon wanted to bring things with him into space? Why did he choose these items?
    • Why do you think it was "peculiar" (strange) for him to be the first Israeli in space? Were you ever the first person from your family to do something? How did it feel?
    • Why do you think a group of Israelis wants to become the fourth country on the moon? Is it important to you to do something few people have done before?

If you are doing this program over several sessions, you may want to introduce the following session's activity of creating the rocket at this point. Campers should be encouraged to think about what they'd want to depict on their rockets and create the actual rockets the following day.

Part 2: Creating an Israeli Rocket

  • SpaceIL has decided that their nanosatellite will carry the Israeli flag - encourage campers to think about what they have learned about Israel, and how they would represent it on their rocket.
  • Participants should be provided with the body tube of their rocket and arts & crafts materials in order to decorate it as an "Israeli" rocket. Encourage campers to choose decorative items other than the Israeli flag and that represent other things they have learned about Israel during the summer.
  • For this part, larger groups may work in teams - teams could give their rocket a Hebrew "team" name which could be part of the decoration.

Part 3: Choosing Personal Items for your Journey

Instruct campers to think about what they would take with them into space (or on a significant journey), and have them choose three things to take with them, one in each of the following categories:

  • an item that represents them
  • an item that represents their family
  • an item that represents their Judaism

Campers will draw or write descriptions of their items on a preprinted sheet that contains the Ilan Ramon quote from above. Time permitting, leaders could have some or all of the participants share their items with the group.

At the conclusion of this part of the activity, campers will roll up the provided sheet and fit it into the nose cone of their rocket.

Part 4: Blast Off!

In groups or as individuals, campers will launch their rockets. Contests can be made around altitude, duration of flight, and successful deploy of the parachute.

Wrap Up

Wrap up this activity by gathering the group to discuss the following ideas and questions:

  • How is Ilan Ramon a pioneer - how were his parents pioneers? Do you think Ilan Ramon was proud of being a pioneer?
  • Are there any ways that you are a pioneer? Do you enjoy it? Does it make you proud?
  • Is it important for Israel to land a spacecraft on the moon?

We want campers to take away the relevance of "pioneerism" in Israeli culture and the connection that it creates between generations.


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