Chasing the Moon at Aiken Technical College DSC_0638

Wesley Dozier, left, Rachel Dozier, Kali Dozier and Mike Dozier of Aiken use specially calibrated scales to learn how much they would weigh on other planets Tuesday at Aiken Technical College during an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing.

GRANITEVILLE — How do you get kids interested in the 50th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing?

Give them a lunar treat, of course: a Moon Pie, to be specific.

Children took their first small steps last Tuesday to learn the right stuff about Apollo 11's mission on July 20, 1969, on Tuesday at Aiken Technical College during of a preview of PBS' upcoming “Chasing the Moon” series about the historic landing.

Then, after watching an episode of the PBS series “Ready Jet Go!” about the landing, the children leaped into a variety of games related to the Moon and the solar system.

Using specially calibrated scales, children learned how much they would weigh on other planets and, taking bites out of Oreo cookies, they created the different phases of the moon. Making a cookie disappear in one bite represented the new moon that's not visible in the night sky.

Chasing the Moon at Aiken Technical College DSC_0649

Chelsie Jablonski, a Campus Ambassador at Aiken Technical College, spins up a cone of cotton candy for Mike Dozier and his children, Wesley and Kali, during an event Tuesday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing.

ATC, the ETV Endowment of South Carolina and South Carolina ETV, along with NASA’s South Carolina Space Grant Consortium, sponsored the event.

Rachel and Wesley Dozier of Aiken brought their daughter and son, Kali and Wesley, to the event, and they were excited.

“I had seen it advertised on Facebook and thought it would be a great educational opportunity for our kids,” Rachel Dozier said.

“I'm an engineer, and it's really important to me that my kids are exposed to STEM and science and technology,” Mike Dozier said. “Events like this get your kids excited when they think about going to the Moon.”

Kali agreed. “I want to go to outer space,” she said.

Stephanie Frazier, the vice president of education for SCETV, said the event introduces children to ETV resources while they learn about history and have fun.

“It's certainly great for kids to be engaged as early as possible,” she said. “The 'Chasing the Moon' series is focused toward adults. 'Ready Jet Go!' pulls in the younger population and helps them understand the significance of this event and what it means. The activities reach out to the children's different senses and help them make connections to the landing as well.”

Chasing the Moon at Aiken Technical College DSC_0655

Brady Twitty, left, Eric Massotti, Katie Massotti and Lillian Massotti shoot for the Moon Tuesday at Aiken Technical College coloring pictures to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing.

Frazier said parents and teachers can learn more about both series at scetv.org or can visit the PBS Kids website at pbskids.org to download fun games and apps about the lunar anniversary.

The “Chasing the Moon” documentary was created by Academy Award-nominee Robert Stone for “American Experience," a history series on PBS.

The complete film will premiere as a three-part series at 9 p.m. July 8-10 on PBS with an encore broadcast at 9 p.m. July 16, 23 and 30. PBS also will have a marathon broadcast from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 20.

The documentary tells the story of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the factors that drove the United States space race through interviews and previously lost or unnoticed footage.

“It chronicles our race to get to the moon before the Russians, but at the same time, it also reveals all the things that were happening in the 1960s around our race to the Moon, which was a lot: the Civil Rights movement, the assassination of JFK, Martin Luther King's assassination, the Vietnam War,” said Don Godish, SCETV's director of content. “So through all that turmoil, there was this unifying moment of our mission to the Moon.”

Godish said Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman gave Robert Stone film of his family watching his launch.

“So you see the family,” Godish said. “NASA never would let you see the families as they were nervous and scared and terrified about the launch of the Apollo missions.”

Godish said “Chasing the Moon” is for people who watched Neil Armstrong take his first step on the Moon 50 years ago and for later generations.

“The documentary reveals a lot of the really interesting facts that we forget, for those of us who were around at that time, and then introduces to those who were not around at that time how complex an undertaking it was to put someone on the Moon safely,” he said.

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.