Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Will Not Mention Dorothy or Toto (Other Than Here)

On Thursday, I arrived in Wichita for the Kansas Association of Teachers of English (KATE) conference. While saying "Kansas Association of Teachers of English" may sound awkard, I'll assume it's grammatically correct.

When John and Bryan picked me up (they're both English teachers...I mean, teachers of English), they took me straight to the Cosmosphere.

All three of us are space nerds, and when they found this out about me, they made sure to include this in my visit. And it was, for lack of a better English word, awesome! First of all, the museum has a moon rock. This little lunar nugget was protected by several sensors and flashing lights, so I even felt a bit nervous getting this close to photograph it.

Something I had never heard about, or just don't remember being taught in American History, are USSR pennants that reached the moon a decade before we stepped on it. When one of these hit the moon, it scattered the tiny metal plates all over the surface.

Maybe you've heard of something called Apollo XIII. But have you ever wondered where you could see the Command Module Odyssey for yourself? Well, it's in Kansas, of course!

And now, here's a picture of the Spacenutz.

The hotel where we stayed, and the location of the conference, was having a pumpkin contest between the different staff groups. This is only a sampling of their very creative pieces...

But I wasn't here for Kansas'/Kansas's (whatever!) spacepumpkin goodness. I was here for the conference, which involved meeting the 2011 Newbery Medal winner, Clare Vanderpool, a native Kansan, Kansian...person from Kansas. (These people who teach English make me nervous.) And I got my copy of Moon Over Manifest signed!

After lunch, it was my turn to speak...

...and sign books.

Well, I'm heading downstairs for KATE's Centennial Celebration Reception, and then a few teachers promised to take me out for some great local ice cream.

Oh, but guess what else I saw in Kansas. An actual NASA disposable absorption containment trunk.

But I like to call them astroboxers!


Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Not going to lie, the astroboxers are slightly terrifying. They take the mysery out of space travel!

The space museum looked really neat, though. I definitely did not know about the Russian pennant (which looks like a soccer ball for some kind of deadly Sovier "playing for keeps" game instead of regular, soft, Western soccer)

Claire Dawn said...

Yeah, what do you call a native of Kansas? hmmm....

I actually started reading wizard of Oz recently. Poor Kansas, they must get that all the time.

Riley said...

I appreciate the lack of Wizard of Oz jokes. I mean the first thing people ask you if you tell them you are from Kansas is do you know Dorothy. How could I possibly know her, she is dead. Anyway I hope my state treated you right. P.S. no one really calls us Kansans.

Sabrina Steyling said...

How cool that you met Claire Vanderpool. I won a coy of Moon Over Manifest in a blog giveaway, and it's one of my favorite books! :)

Ruth said...

I was at the KATE conference and I thoroughly enjoyed your speech. (You can almost see me in my bright pink shirt in the lower left corner.) At the time I wasn't quite finished with 13 Reasons Why, but I have since finished it. What a wonderful story! Thank you for putting information about suicide into the hands of young readers. I look forward to the release of your next novel; I believe in just a few days. Happy writing.

Natalia said...

The demonym is "Kansan" and we hear it quite often! I don't know what else we'd be called.