Twenty seven students travelled to Huntsville, Alabama to take part in a NASA Space Camp during the July holidays, accompanied by Acting Headmaster Mr Paul McKinley and teachers Ms Sarnia Slabbert and Mr Matthew Huang. Student Miriam Leonhardt (below left) wrote this report:
“We spent five days at Space Camp taking part in simulators and lessons that resembled the training of astronauts. We were placed into teams of about 16, made up of students from all over the world who shared an interest in science. Our time was packed full of exciting activities such as engineering challenges, missions, team building activities and presentations. We challenged ourselves at the high ropes course, learned about some of the physics involved in designing rockets and heat proof materials, experienced space walking simulations and scuba diving to feel the effect of reduced gravity in space, learned how to deal with different types of anomalies in spacecraft, including medical and technical anomalies, and improved our team work, all in preparation for the main simulated mission to Mars.
My personal highlight was the missions as I enjoyed the experience of trying out different jobs as an astronaut and in mission control. It was also interesting to see how the communication between mission control and the astronauts worked when there was an anomaly. Building a rocket and a heat shield for our ‘eggstronaut’ was an enjoyable experience too, even though it was not quite successful. We were lucky to be able to attend a presentation from a former astronaut, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, who talked about her experiences in space, including some of the more difficult aspects of transferring normal day-to-day life into an environment with microgravity, and the training that the astronauts have to do. To us, listening to her presentation was special as she attended Space Camp when she was our age.
After Space Camp, we took a flight to Orlando where we spent three days visiting theme parks and Crystal River, where we swam with manatees. It was amazing to see how such large animals could be so graceful. Following our stay in Orlando we went to Houston, where we attended a baseball game and visited the Lyndon B Johnson Space Centre. I am sure I speak for most of us when I say that this was an amazing experience that I will never forget.”