Study of space becomes easier with ShareSpace's donation


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Andrew Aldrin, son of former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, center, talks about the new glossy 25-foot by 25-foot map of Mars. Brevard Public Schools was the recipient of a package donation from Aldrin's ShareSpace Foundation.

Chris Bonanno

Brevard Public Schools was the beneficiary of an out-of-this world donation July 19.

BPS was the recipient of a package donation from Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation that consisted of a glossy 25-foot by 25-foot map of Mars, 10 “Welcome to Mars” books, a Vex IQ robot (controlled remotely) and a curriculum package that will go to each of Brevard’s 56 elementary schools, according to Jim Christensen, who serves as executive director of the foundation.

“Every kid that is in school today will have the opportunity if they study, if they work to actually participate in humans being on Mars permanently and you put those things together and those are really incredible opportunities,” said Andrew Aldrin, Buzz’s son and president of the foundation.

Christensen adds that the foundation values each package at $5,000 each.

The donation is the first large-scale donation the ShareSpace Foundation has made, but the idea to help educate children goes back years, Christensen said.

“The origin of the maps actually goes back to sitting down with Buzz Aldrin some years ago and talking about what can we do to inspire kids,” Christensen said. “…. We’re focused and dedicated on the idea of inspiring kids in the areas of STEAM, science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics and we looked ‘how can we go about that?’ and we came up with this idea of this big map, this kind of big, in your face colorful thing that people can actually go out and walk on Mars.”

There were some obvious reasons that also made Brevard an attractive candidate to receive the donations, Christensen noted.

“Brevard, it was such a natural choice here. First, you’re looking at on the Space Coast, this is where it’s happening,” Christensen said. “Second, you’ve got an excellent school district. Third, I live in Brevard so it’s easy for us to work for Brevard and do these kinds of things. It just made sense for us to reach out immediately to Brevard and make this donation.”

“Where are we? We’re on the Space Coast,” Aldrin said. “This is where commercial space is going to happen. This is where missions to the moon and Mars are going to launch from. This is the place.”

District 4 School Board representative Matt Susin welcomed the donation and the hands-on learning opportunity it would provide for students.

“It is amazing to think that here is a piece of Mars that the kids will be learning about and when they get to be when they’re in college, they will be learning about people or even may be the people that are actually launching the satellites, launching to become astronauts, launching to become everything else and we’re just so proud of the foundation for giving us that opportunity,” Susin added.

The foundation relies upon donations, Christensen adds. Those interested in more information and/or donating to Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation should go to  sharespace.org.