For some students, summer time was spent at the pool. For three Daleville High School students, summer time meant learning about science and more at space camp.
Austin Horne, Alex Peters and Leah Steward attended the Space Academy for Leading Students in Alabama (SALSA) at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville May 26-31.
According to a press release from the center, the weeklong camp “promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and problem solving.”
The students had the opportunity to train with a team to fly a simulated space mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Mars or the Moon and participate in an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) and other experiments.
“Space Camp operates year-round in Huntsville and uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects,” the release states. “Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA.”
Student astronauts had early mornings and busy days participating in learning activities.
“We'd start the day early at 6:30 a.m. and have breakfast, then do a couple of learning activities and go to lunch around noon,” Steward said. “After lunch, we would go to the simulators. We'd have dinner around 5 p.m. and do a couple of learning exercises and group activities, and then we would head back to the habitats (dorms) around 8 p.m. and be in bed by 9:30 p.m.”
Horne said each day was different, even if the schedule seemed to follow the same pattern.
“We didn’t really know what we would do during the day until it came,” he said. “We were always wondering what would be next.”
Of course, each of the students had their favorite activity from the week. For Peters, a fun park ride was her favorite experience at camp.
“My favorite activity was the Moon Shot, which is a thrill ride at the rocket park where you shoot up in the air and then you come back down slowly, similar to the Dr. Doom ride at Universal Studios Florida,” she said. “It was my favorite because it was extremely fast and I enjoyed watching the reactions of the other people on the ride with me.”
Steward said she enjoyed connecting with her assigned group during camp.
“My favorite activity to do at space camp was the group activities,” she said. “It brought my team a lot closer together, and it was a lot more fun having others with me.”
Horne said he had a hard time choosing a favorite activity because they were all amazing to experiences.
“We did so many exciting activities at camp that it is hard for me to pick a favorite,” he said. “But, the simulation missions were really fun and put us in actual situations.”
Each student astronaut learned new information during space camp as well, including about the space program and more.
“I learned the history of the space program to include the first man in space, who was Yuri Gagarin from the Soviet Union,” Peters said. “I also learned how to build a rocket and the importance of following directions for that step by step. When you do it correctly, your rocket ends up going higher than all the other teams' rockets.”
“I learned about a lot of things, but my favorite was the tardigrade (water bear),” Steward said. “They are awesome yet terrifying creatures.”
“We learned many new things at space camp,” Horne said. “I learned how rockets are fueled; how space shuttles work; history of space travel; and a lot more valuable information. I have gained a greater appreciation for the men and women that helped us achieve space travel and helped us reach the moon. I also have a better understanding of the work that goes into aviation and space travel.”
Now that they have learned more about science and space, these students are even more prepared for the coming school year. They also recommend the experience to their fellow students.
“I think it will help me in my science classes because we learned about a broad range of subtopics that is involved in the space industry,” Steward said. “I'm very grateful to have attended space camp and experience everything. I definitely recommend space camp for would-be participants.”
“It will help me if I have a quiz on space, but it also increased my interest in science and how things work,” Peters said. “It was a fun, amazing experience. It was very educational, and if I got another opportunity to go, I would. I wasn't sure I would like it, but I really did.
“Of course, we learned a lot of new things related to space and aviation, which will help us understand certain areas of science better,” Horne said. “It wasn’t like any other camp I’ve ever been to. It was very exciting and so fun to experience it with my current friends and the friends I made while there. It opened my eyes to many different career paths and jobs that I previously didn’t know about or wouldn’t have been as interested in. I wouldn’t have been able to attend space camp without the help of Stephanie Robertson and the generosity of our state legislators.”