As teachers in STEM subjects, teaching our students of the wonders of space and space travel, inspiring our students over the years to follow a career in STEM and speaking of the amazing opportunities available students who pursue these subjects we were overwhelmed by the opportunity to take students to NASA.
As part of a team of 12 teachers and 90 students from independent girls’ schools around Sydney, we set off on the first Sunday of the winter holidays to balmy Houston, Texas.
The first week at Houston involved participants taking a journey through the history of space travel. First visiting the museum of rockets and memorabilia from the first astronauts to venture the cosmos, followed by a tour of the Mission Control and the current commercial crew program where NASA engineers are designing the rocket for the mission to Mars.
Not least were the highlights of the week where students were inspired by presentations from Amber Gell, a space scientist and rocket engineer, working on the Orion spacecraft who will take the astronauts to Mars and astronaut Leroy Chiao. These speakers both gave inspirational speeches about the importance of needing grit and perseverance when trying to achieve their future goals.
As the second week began we jet-setted off to Huntsville, Alabama to participate in Space Camp. Students and teachers both participated in an astronaut training program challenging their perceptions and developing collaboration and leadership skills.
After two weeks the students from all schools had gained a greater understanding of the challenges endured by astronauts during space travel and were inspired to pursue study in STEM. This opportunity allowed the students to engage with STEM activities which will hopefully fuel their desire to further explore the many careers available to them whether it be as future space engineers or explorers, innovators, research scientists or gain skills for careers that have not even been thought of yet. As teachers we were able to bring back a range of ideas, strategies and resources that we can implement not just in our classrooms but through a wide variety of other avenues.
Vanessa Fraser, Science
Natalie O’Keefe ,Careers Advisor, Science