Teens have blast, gain skills at space camp SanTan Sun News

Teens have blast, gain skills at space camp

Teens have blast, gain skills at space camp
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By COLLEEN SPARKS, Managing Editor

Several students at Chandler high schools are flying high after taking simulated missions, building model rockets and engaging in other fun STEM activities at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
The eight teens who attend Chandler schools were among the 292 students from 41 countries and 27 US states and territories chosen to participate in the annual Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at the center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Each student spent a week dealing hands-on with real-world challenges in astronautics, coding and computer sciences. The camp for students ages 16 to 18 aims to encourage youths to pursue STEM careers.
“Engaging students in science and engineering is now as fundamentally important as learning to read and write,” said center CEO Deborah Barnhart. “By investing in these young students, Honeywell is helping to prepare them to become the global STEM-literate citizens who will change our world.”
The Chandler students who attended are a busy lot: they also participate in clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities.
Nastia Andreyeva, 16, a junior at Corona del Sol High School, liked the space camp so much she is thinking about applying to be an ambassador next year.
“It was a really good experience,” Nastia said. “We got into little groups. Every single day we got to do different activities. Everyone got out of their comfort zone. Everyone got really close. We learned a lot about missions and STEM.”
She said her favorite mission involved simulators to experience what it is like to fly a plane.
“We had to bomb different bases,” Nastia said. “It really interested me.”
She said she also liked riding in a machine that spun students around and made it difficult to lift their arms and legs as they felt pressure more than three times their body weight pushing on them.
Nastia said building miniature rockets – including learning how to solder them – was “a little tough for me, at least for the programming and engineering part” but she learned a lot in the process.
One of Nastia’s favorite things was meeting people from different countries and learning about their cultures.
She won the communication award for her group.
“People describe me as a really quiet and shy person so I was really proud of myself for winning that,” she said.
Quentin Curry, 16, of Queen Creek, a junior at Basha High School, thought it was “a great experience.”
“It was actually really different from what I expected,” Quentin said. “I thought it’d be how to be a leader; it was more to it. We learned a lot of things like … about the Apollo Mission, working effectively in teams. We also talked a little bit about public speaking, which was really nice.
“We were with a group the whole time; it really helped us strengthen bonds,” he added, explaining he applied because “I felt like it was a cool opportunity to learn about the final frontier, which is space and also learning leadership skills, which you can’t have too much of.”
“We talked with actual NASA scientists on it, so I felt like that was really cool to get firsthand experience with scientists that worked on those types of rockets,” Quentin said.
The students were part of a simulated mission on the international space station.
“We were mission control, in charge of keeping the people on the International Space Station alive and make sure all their equipment was good and they were healthy. It was kind of stressful to do, but we were able to get it together,” Quentin said, adding:
“It was really overwhelming in a good way.”
He also enjoyed meeting students from Brazil, Germany, Italy and other countries.
“It was totally fun to meet people from different cultures and countries,” he said. “I learned a lot about stuff that goes on in different cultures and countries. One of my friends from Italy, he talked about (how) most things in the US are prominent in Italy: music, fashion mainly.”
Cora Ebaugh, 16, a junior at Hamilton High, said she enjoyed learning about aviation challenges.
“I have never done anything with coding,” she said. “I never knew what a Raspberry Pi was. I learned a lot of new stuff. We built a rocket that we had to code Raspberry Pi for to launch. It was really cool.”
Cora liked riding in a multi-axis trainer that simulates the disorientation someone would feel reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.
She said her crew instructor said it was built in space if astronauts get hit by something so they “train so your stomach doesn’t move so you don’t get dizzy that fast.” The device flipped upside down and forward while passengers were strapped in.
“We had a throttle, landing gear, a TV in front of us, a video game simulator,” she added. “It took me a little while to figure out how to keep going straight. I was one of the bombers; it was like half-war, half air-to-ground bombing. It was really cool.”
Rohan Ravikanti, 16, a sophomore at BASIS Chandler, fondly recalled “so many cool experiences and team-building activities” at the camp.
“Honeywell’s camp was really great,” Rohan said. “I met people from all over the world. I made friends from Australia, India, Canada. It was really diverse. I’m especially interested in aerospace or aviation engineering or something in robotics. I was always interested in it since I was 2.”
In a team-building exercise, he said students had to balance bricks while moving somewhere.
“The biggest lesson I learned in camp is how important cooperation and teamwork skills are within any industry,” Rohan said, adding:
“The main focus of camp is aeronautics and leadership. Honeywell’s camp was a really good experience because you learn so much from it. Even if I weren’t interested in aerospace, I still think it’s a great experience for everyone to try.”
Nagaprasad Rudrapatna, 17, of Chandler, a senior at Hamilton High School, said, “The best part was there were so many people from outside of the US that came.”
“The best part was we had flight simulators, sitting in a cockpit and controlling a fighter jet,” he added, noting:
“Coding was the most beneficial for me. I got to use some of the coding skills I learned in school in an actual project. It’s fun. I think the biggest skills that we learned were about teamwork and dividing up roles to complete a task more efficiently. I think I definitely want to work on it, but I think I’m a decent leader.”
Nicole Spencer-Walters, 16, a sophomore at Chandler Preparatory Academy, raved about her experience.
“It was phenomenal,” she said. “The program was so fantastic. We had a lot of special speakers like a CEO and an astronaut. We built rockets. We built heat shields.”
The heat shields were created with tinfoil and other supplies and the goal was to “set it up so it wouldn’t burn the tinfoil,” Nicole said. The concept illustrates how planes must not descend too quickly or the nose of the planes could burn, she added.
She was impressed with the other students’ work ethic at the camp.
Other students who attend Chandler schools who took part in the space camp were Yazdaan Taajwar, of Chandler, a student at Hamilton High School; and Kevin Grady, of Gilbert, who attends BASIS Chandler.

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