It was a mission like no other for a lucky group of 34 Year 8–10 students who travelled to the United States of America in the Term 2 holidays to attend the Californian Association for STEAM Educations’ (CASE) Space School, accompanied by Head of Information and Innovation, Wilj Dekkers and Head of Learning Enrichment in the Preparatory School, Kelly McBride.
During a packed two-week programme, held in Houston, Texas, and Huntsville, Alabama, the students completed leadership training, spoke to astronauts, toured mission control centres, performed science experiments, built electrical generators, experienced astronaut training simulators and were responsible for running simulated missions using mock Space Shuttles and the soon to be completed Orion space craft.
In an attempt to beat a world record, the students also participated in the simultaneous launch of 5000 model rockets. These were launched into the air at the US Space and Rocket Centre on the exact day and time that Apollo 11 lifted off 50 years ago propelling Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. The students came home with a one-off commemorative Apollo 11 coin, created for the 1000 students attending the Space Camp in the moon landing’s anniversary year. They also earned their US Space Academy Wings, a tribute to the hard work they put in over long days, which started at around 7.00am, and were often not finished until 9.00pm.
Students from St Andrew’s won several prizes during this life-changing experience. Team Rhea, made up of Year 8–9 students won the prize for Top Team, voted by crew trainers and lesson instructors. Team Umbriel (Year 10 students) won the Mission Commander’s Patch. Team Shuttle 1 won the Californian Association of STEAM Education Wings, and Sophie Hayden (Year 9) won the Top Student prize after impressing during her engagement with astronaut speakers, instructors and crew trainers.