The St. Ambrose 8th grade class visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (Space Camp) in Huntsville, Alabama last fall and came away with a sense of what is possible not only in future space travel, but also how they can contribute as future scientists, teachers, and engineers. From their arrival on early Wednesday afternoon to their departure on late Friday morning, the students and chaperones had a very busy three days as they conducted experiments, constructed and fired model rockets, and ran a simulation of a Space Shuttle flight.
The group was separated into two teams for the Space Camp session: Team Armstrong and Team Aldrin. Each group participated in many of the same activities and simulations, with the point being to show the students what has been accomplished through past missions to space and what’s possible in the future. The exploration of the planet Mars was an underlying theme of the trip as NASA is looking ahead to the next generation of space travel and exploration. St. Ambrose students were fortunate to be on hand during a visit by a veteran astronaut who flew several missions on the Space Shuttle and worked on the Hubble Telescope. In addition to showing off his photos from space, Dr. John Grunsfeld spoke at length about the importance of math and science and how it all applies to space travel and exploration as well as to important jobs on Earth.
The groups were also offered the chance to take part in endurance tests that simulated G-forces and weightlessness, and got to see up close a large display of previously used rockets, space modules and equipment. The highlight of the trip was a simulation of a Space Shuttle mission when each member of the group was assigned a job either on the shuttle, mission control, or on the International Space Station. Each group had one test run before conducting the mission and attempting to return safely to Earth. After the trip, here were some of the student comments:
"The whole trip made a huge impact on my teenage life. It has really helped me to figure out what I might be interested in doing when I grow up." - NE
"It was a wonderful and informative experience and one that I will never forget!" - KK
"Space camp is a way to get out of the world and excel our creative minds. It was so incredible to see all of these things that so many creative and talented people made. If I don't have a different job when I get older than I will probably be an astronaut." - GR
"I had one of the best times of my life at Space camp! Thanks to all who made it possible!" - BP
"My experience at Space Camp made me more interested in Space and made me want to learn more." - LW
"My favorite thing was listening to the astronaut speak on Thursday night. I love hearing people's experiences and listening to their stories. It made me feel like I was there myself." - LH
"We were able to see one of the real capsules that was actually in space! You could tell it was real by seeing the burn marks/holes on the bottom. And seeing the wiggle room in those capsules! ooooh! You had none, zero, nil. Those astronauts were brave!" - MR