October Sky

by Homer Hickam

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Where did Homer go with his dad on Sunday in October Sky? What did Homer see that his dad had designed and what did the device do?

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On Sunday, Homer goes with his dad into the mine. They have to keep the trip a secret, because Homer's mother does not want her son to be a miner like his dad; she wants him to leave Coalwood and get an education, and have a safer career than mining. Homer's dad, however, loves mining, and it is his hope that Homer will follow in his footsteps. Homer's dad is a highly intelligent man, but he never had the opportunity to get a college degree and so has not been able to do all the things he would have liked to at the mine. He recognizes that his son is also capable and smart, however, and hopes that he will go on to college, get a degree, and come back to head the mine as an engineer.

Homer's dad is very interested in the process of ventilation in the mine. He explains to his son that

"if the air stops circulating, methane will seep out of the coal and build up...to keep that from happening, we use a pressure system. Fans raise the pressure in the mine to a little greater than the surface pressure. The methane is blown out through...vents."

Even though he is not technically an engineer, Homer's dad helped design the system he describes that ventilates the mine. Homer is impressed with his dad's obvious knowledge and expertise, and realizes that although his dad does not have a college degree, he knows more than his coworker Jake Mosby, who is a certified engineer (Chapter 11).

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