HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) – Have you ever wondered what life on Mars is like? With the landing of the Mars Rover Perseverance earlier this month, it is a good time to check out the new exhibit at Wings of Eagles Discovery Center.
Mars Base Eagle takes you through the galaxy to the Red Planet in a hands-on learning environment, complete with escape room Mars simulators, hydroponics center, medical unit, STEM research area and more.
“We need the youth to understand that they are tomorrow. They’re the ones that are going to be going to Mars, while us older folks are going to be stuck here back on Earth,” CEO and President of Wings of Eagles Discovery Center Tracy Sink said.
This exhibit is a collaboration with NASA, who helped build, design and install the experience. An instructor with the center applied for a grant a few years ago and this dream became a reality in January 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the center had to shutdown just after the exhibit opened. Now, it is running in full force with missions to Mars on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Local businesses are also supporting the Mars Base Eagle exhibit. Upstate Hydroponics and a local geologist support specific learning areas in the exhibit so families can continue to learn and pursue their passions. Volunteers and organizers encourage kids to step outside of their comfort zones and dream big.
“If you’re thinking about going into that field it can spark an interest. You never really know what you’re good at until you’re able to experience it,” volunteer Joseph Panzarella said.
Space travelers can participate in several hands on experiences, like driving a rover to complete an escape room mission, working with a medical team to find the antidote to cure a poison exposure, or learning robotics and engineering skills in the STEM center.
“We give them some understanding why they need to live underneath the surface, why they have to wear certain gear working on the surface, and then they can experience the family residences, a hydroponics system, and even some escape rooms if they choose,” Sink continued.
The priority at the center is to provide a unique experience to the Elmira community.
“This is a wow factor,” Sink added. “They want to get interested in technology as well as space because that’s another frontier we just really haven’t had enough people interested in.”
“If it is your dream and it is something that you’re passionate about, keep following it,” Panzerella concluded.
Chase your dream and pursue your passion because one day we may join the NASA rover Perseverance on Mars.