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2017 Advanced Space Camp

Space Camp 2017

Due to the changes in my course schedule, only one group traveled to Rocket City this year to attend Space Camp--the upperclassmen group of Advanced Space Camp participants.  This year's program was unique in that it was a custom-designed program created just for our students--with the premise that starting in 2018, the groups attending this trip will be comprised of some previous Space Camp graduates. This means that the activities had to be carefully considered and more advanced, to not only compensate for the older student, but also to build upon the prior experiences that returning alumni would have. Boy was it awesome--even though this was my third year attending!! I can't wait to take some alumni back with me next year!!
The group arrived at school at 8:00 am on Friday, May 12th.  We headed down I-65 for the 4.5 hour trip to Huntsville.  Mrs. Clark & I took 13 students with us on this inagural Advanced Space Camp trip.  We stopped for lunch at IHOP in Huntsville and arrived at the Space Camp facility at 1 p.m. CST and checked in.
Upon check-in, we immediately unpacked our belongings in the dorm, also known as Habitat 1. 
 Once we got our belongings in order, we reported to orientation, where we met our crew trainer Chelsea and learned some of the basic rules of Space Camp--all things PDA!!  ;)
We were given our team name, Marshall, and then we were immediately off to learn and immerse ourselves in all things space related!!  After a brief series of issues that arose due to some scheduling snafus, we got started on a few things.  We were brought to the main facility prepped for our mission; the Orion.  There were several aspects to this mission--a Mission Control (based in Cape Canaveral for the pre-launch and launch, and then switched to Houston for the remainder of the mission ), the Orion capsule (the SLS vehicle which was responsible for bringing astronauts to the lunar base), the Altair (a lunar landing vehicle used to reach lunar base), Rising Star (the lunar habitat).  This mission involved the Orion crew to board Altair and travel to the lunar surface and go to the habitat Rising Star (where a crew has been living in space) and do a total crew exchange for the astronauts to be able to return to the Earth.  Each group (Orion & Rising Star) had to complete an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity--basically a spacewalk with a specific task to be completed).  Trainees were given a 90 minute training session in advance of the real deal to learn about their tasks and understand how this program works.  
We also spent some time in the planning stages of the Advanced Academy rocketry--learning about the basics of rocket science--center of gravity, center of pressure, payloads, and construction parameters.  This activity took a large chunk of the evening because of its accelerated levels of science content--and it was something that definitely gave our crew lots of fits! :)
At the end of the evening, we received our flight suits and camp shirts--so we were ready to rock the rest of the weekend in style with all of our new swag!!
The second day of camp was even more jammed packed--because we were attempting to make up from some of the lost activities on the prior day due to the scheduling issues.  We started our day at 7:30 a.m. and went through 10:30 p.m.--so we earned our keep!!  We completed the underwater activity, rode some simulators--including the 1/6th gravity chair (which simulate what it feels like to walk on the moon) and the MAT (Multi-Axis Trainer, which simulates the disorientation one would feel in a tumble spin upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere).  We went to the dome-shaped IMAX theater and watched the film "Journey to Space", and then went to Area 51 where we ziplined (to learn the importance of teamwork, perserverance, and reaching our goals).  We ended the day by spending some quality (and frustrating) time with our rockets--as we were charged with the task of creating a rocket that would not only be able to reach more than 3 meters of height in launch, but also be able to safely deliver our payload (an egg) back to the Earth's surface.  The trainees had a budget within which they had to work--which made for some interesting decisions to say the least!!  By the time we hit the Habitats, we were more than ready for bed!!
On the last day of camp, we woke up and hit the Camp Crew Galley--the Space Camp equivalent of a Mess Hall.  Students are able to select from a variety of foods while attending camp--even getting the chance to see how the facility is growing many vegetables in-house like NASA is experimenting in space through the use of an aeroponic garden.  Each day for lunch & dinner, the Galley features a country of origin from one of the 15 partners in the International Space Station project.  So trainees are allowed to sample food items without risk--due to the self-serve style of the dining facility.
We spent the day  by launching our rockets (boy do we have some interesting stories to tell from this--just ask team Two Left Turns!!), visiting the museum and gift shop, touring Rocket Park, and finally graduating.  Graduation was a special event.  We were lined up and brought into the auditorium with them music and each student was announced over the sound system.  You could feel the excitement as students received their graduation materials.  During the graduation ceremony, students had their name badges 'flipped' (a Space Camp tradition), received their Space Academy wings, diploma, and an 8x10 group photo under the Pathfinder.  Our group is now among the 750,000+ graduates from Space Camp.  There were also awards for the best underwater activity and the best rocket.
There was also a "Right Stuff" Award given out--this is Space Camp's highest and most coveted award.  This award, named from Tom Wolfe's 1979 book, The Right Stuff, is given to an outstanding trainee who goes above and beyond in leadership, teamwork, and attitude throughout the camp experience.  This award was given to our very own Jeremy Taylor--BHS's first ever recipient!!  
After graduation, we were able to return to the museum to ride more simulators (the trip to the Black Hole, G-Force, and SpaceShot--my personal favorite!!) and tour the museum exhibits and have Chelsea attempt to fill our brains with as much space knowledge as possible within our 2 hour window--we were making one last attempt at adjusting from Friday's schedule issues!  We learned about the STS disasters (Challenger and Columbia) and how the ultimate sacrifice was payed in order to learn more about the universe around us.  There was also a beautiful jewelry exhibit that was themed around the universe--and there were some magnificent pieces on display! 
All in all, BHS 2 Space Camp 2017 was a huge success!!  Thanks to everyone who worked behind the scenes to get this program off the ground!!  We would like to thank Mrs. Clark for joining us in the fun (didn't really have to twist her arm too much)!  A big thank you goes out the families of the trainees who supported their dreams and helped turn this into a reality!  We had a blast!!
Space Camp 2017 rocked!! 
Bardstown High School

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Bardstown, KY 40004
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