East Texas Students Talk About Shuttle Columbia

Gretchen Nees didn't need a text book to teach today's lesson plan at Velma Penny Elementary in Lindale. Most of her 3rd graders had an eye-view of Shuttle Columbia's explosion...like Justin Owen, "It's where we live and it's just weird that it's here instead of somewhere else."

As history unfolds near their hometown, you'd have a tough time finding any child without their hand raised in class; without a story like Rachel Siebenlist, "A lot of kids were talking about the crash" The talk was about shuttle debris, about astronauts, and even about life. "I've learned that accidents can happen at anytime, anytime".

These students realizes that sometimes those lesson are hard to understand. And bringing matters closer to home, just last week, the entire 3rd grade class at Velma Penny these kids got the chance to talk to an engineer who designs the re-entry patterns for space shuttles. A conversation they now reflect upon with special attention, and special respect for a profession, "I would love to be an astronaut," says Lance Elliot.

In Mineola....While Shuttle Columbia's failed mission has the focus of a nation peering into East Texas students at Mineola High School seniors are looking deep into their hearts, "It's good to talk about this, " says Marissa Davis. At the heart of what matters...Davis says questions are easy to come by yet it answers that are tough to find. "Why," she says. "What was actually going on. I want to know exactly what happened if there is something there that could have been taken care of before."

Something these students are determined to learn from. One student told us, that for him, space travel had become as common as boarding a plane. The tragedy of Columbia has taught them a new lesson. A lesson about life.

Jennifer Brice, reporting.