The St. Ambrose 8th grade class visits the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (Space Camp) in Huntsville, Alabama each year. They 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 are very busy conducting experiments, constructing and firing model rockets, and running a simulation of a Space Shuttle flight.
The group is separated into two teams for the Space Camp session. Each group participates 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 is an underlying theme of the trip as NASA is looking ahead to the next generation of space travel and exploration.
The groups are also offered the chance to take part in endurance tests that simulate G-forces and weightlessness, and get to see up close a large display of previously used rockets, space modules and equipment. The highlight of the trip is a simulation of a Space Shuttle mission when each member of the group is assigned a job either on the shuttle, mission control, or on the International Space Station. Each group has one test run before conducting the mission and attempting to return safely to Earth. Past students have offered these 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