New SAC Museum exhibit inspires kids to explore the skies

"Above and Beyond" exhibit opened this weekend
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 7:31 PM CST
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ASHLAND, Neb. (KOLN) - In the brand new Above and Beyond Exhibit, kids like 6-year-old Gabe Czarnek get to dream about taking their place amongst the stars. And Czarnek already has some big idea.

“I think Earth is a little too small because space is a little too big,” Czarnek said. “So we have to send out kind of like a bunch of satellites.”

Clayton Anderson, SAC Museum CEO, said Above and Beyond offers a hands-on learning experience for a new era of education.

“Young people today learn differently than I learned,” Anderson said. “It’s a very interactive environment. They’re on iPad. They’re on iPhone. They’re on computers. And they’re touching and listening and pushing and flying simulations and doing all those cool things. And so that’s what this exhibit brings, in large part, is interactive entertainment.”

One spot, a favorite for many kids, gives visitors the chance to design and fly their own fighter jet on a simulation. Another part of the exhibit invites individuals to fly like a bird, while explaining the concepts of lift and drag.

“It just opens them up to something they don’t usually see every day,” Nicholas Dornbusch, a first-time visitor and parent, said. “I mean, we don’t take a lot of flights, so they don’t see airplanes. But they always love flying around.”

Anderson, Nebraska’s only ever astronaut, said he distinctly remembers watching the Apollo 8 astronauts fly behind the moon on Christmas Eve in 1968. More than five decades later, he said space travel is just as exciting.

“Space is cool again,” Anderson said. “When I was a youngster, it was cool, and now it’s prevalent again.”

Anderson said the goal of the exhibit is to get kids of all backgrounds thinking about what’s possible, and Czarnek was doing just that. He said he wants to design space crafts, making them safer for others.

“And when I’m a grown-up, I want to change stuff a little,” Czarnek said.

The exhibit, presented by Boeing, is set to be open for the next eight months and museum staff is hoping folks from all over the country come to see it.