Aerospace educator Gary T. Pozzato demonstrates how his homemade robot works during a presentation at Cheshire Elementary on Thursday.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Of all the questions kids have about astronauts and outer space, perhaps there's one that's not often addressed.
How do astronauts go to the bathroom?
Aerospace educator Gary T. Pozzato gives kids that answer in his "Go for the Stars" multimedia space program presentation.
"A space toilet is not like our toilets down here," he told the pre-kindergartners through second-graders at Cheshire Elementary School on Thursday during a PTG-sponsored trip to the school. "No, no, no."
Instead of water, a space toilet uses air, he told the kids, who responded with typical giggles. The astronaut sits on a toilet in which air is being circulated below and "expels the waste" as normal, and then the air blows the waste into a compartment for storage.
"There's no secrets, no tricks," he said.
Pozzato, who is based in Connecticut, shared many secrets about space and science during the presentation, which included a visit from his homemade robot, ROBO the Friendly Robot, and a slideshow of images of Mars captured by the several robots NASA has sent there over the years.
Several children were chosen to wear blue astronaut jumpsuits and participate in hands-on activities, including commanding ROBO to recycle a water bottle and demonstrating how a planet orbits. Pozzato gave a second presentation immediately after the first for the third- through fifth-graders at the school.
Karen Isbell, president of the Cheshire PTG, said the school received a flier about the presentation and chose to bring Pozzato in because they were looking for enrichment activities to supplement regular classroom time.
"We wanted to bring in something educational but fun," Isbell said.
"I was happy I got to talk to a robot," said first-grader Haley Wood as she removed the jumpsuit she got to wear during the presentation.
"They're never going to forget this," Pozzato said.