CHIPLEY - Kate M. Smith Elementary students added more depth to classroom lessons as the school hosted its inaugural "Astronomy Night" Monday evening.

Fifth graders have been studying space, including moon phases, for several weeks, so fifth grade teacher Troy Rackley decided to organize a more hands-on learning experience and decided to host the event so that students and their families could spend the evening at KMS learning about space and moon phases together.

With the help of fellow science teacher, Becki Franklin, Principal Lesa Burdeshaw, and several parent and teacher volunteers, the idea came to fruition, just in time for students and parents to see the moon just days before the rare "super blue blood moon" event.

Students and their families gathered at KMS to hear guest speaker, Astronomy instructor Dr. Jeff Bodart of Chipola College, discuss space and telescopes.

Families then went outside and enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies while viewing the moon and other celestial bodies through three high resolution telescopes.

Organizers say that not only did students wait excitedly in line to see the moon's features they have learned about in class, but parents also eagerly participated, asking questions of both students and teachers.

Chipola Science club member Colby Hargrove helped student Asher Holt see the moon's craters through one of the telescopes. As he looked, Holt shared how the moon craters come to be.

"Astroids crash into the moon, taking out chunks," said Holt. "The deeper the chunk, the darker the crater appears."

Rackley states the event was an excellent experience for KMS fifth graders and staff and expressed his desire to expand this experience to more grade levels next year.

Principal Lesa Burdeshaw also expressed her appreciation for the event.

"I was pleased at the turnout," she said. "Mr. Rackley showed a lot of initiative in organizing this and reaching out to Chipola College to come help. Special thanks to Becki Franklin and Vickie Holt for helping out. The children and adults seemed to really have a lot of fun using the telescopes."

For more photos from this event, visit