For the Thermal Design Challenge, sisters Hannah and Sarah Githens made an object called the “Nail Armstrong” in the Space Academy camp they attended in Huntsville, Ala., this month.
Somewhat of a success, Hannah’s group made it work in 1:57 seconds, while Sarah’s group accomplished the task in about three minutes.
The sisters attended the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., approximately two weeks ago. If this sounds familiar to readers, it is the same space camp that Kiera and Kayla Wilmot attended last summer when Homer Hickam learned about the incident in which Kiera got in trouble in school when she ignited her science project on school grounds before the start of class and without a school official present; it led to a suspension with the possibility of expulsion. She was also required to attend a school other than Bartow High School. Ultimately, Kiera was exonerated and along with her sister graduated high school this year. Hickam, a NASA engineer, is best known for “October Sky,” a movie about him being inspired by the Sputnik 1 launch to get into a career in NASA.
The Githen girls attended the Space Academy program, which is open to those 12-14 years old. In five days, youth learn the applications of science, technology, engineering and math.
Campers take a simulated walk on the moon, gain and understanding of working in a frictionless environment. They build and launched a model rocket and learned what to do to become space engineers.
Sarah enjoyed the model rocket perhaps the most in her week-long experience.
“I really liked building a rocket and launching it. It went up, up, up and came down and it got stuck,” she said indicating the nose got stuck in the ground.
She said someone’s rocket didn’t exactly go as planned as it caught on fire and the engine and parachute burned. Though not what they were expecting to see, both said it was pretty cool to see anyway.
Students took part in a mission where Hannah said she played a commander. Sarah was a capsule communications person where she could talk with people in the rocket.
“The best part of that was when I said ‘Houston, we have a problem,’” Hannah said.
Hannah said the camp furthered her interest in space, perhaps more than her sister, who said she has a greater interest in music.
“I want to go into the Aviation Challenge,” Hannah said about another program at the Hunstville, Ala., camp. The session they attended gets students ready for this, she said.
It enables high school trainees to explore careers and study science, technology, engineering and math and focus on college and careers. It teaches mental and physical demands for astronauts, engineers and technologists. It allows students to experience weightlessness by going into water. It also provides college credits at the University of Alabama.
There was, though, some weightlessness in the camp they attended.
“It was really scary,” Sarah said of the weightlessness, though Hannah said it was it was pretty cool.
Sarah said another downfall she experienced in being weightless, of course, was an itch.
“When I was in the orbiter I got an itch, but I had a helmet on,” she said.
Another advantage they got out of the week are the new friends they made. There were perhaps a total of 45 students in the camp divided into groups. Their group had about 10 people in it.
“We made good relationships there,” Hannah said, glancing at her cell phone to see if there were any text messages, then saying they text message to each other.
While some of what they experienced they knew about, there was plenty of new stuff they learned. For Hannah, at least, she said she wants to learn more.
When they returned to Bartow this past week, the girls appeared before the Bartow Crickette Club. They wore their camp uniforms and gave a small report on what they did. They showed members the rocket they built, explained some of what they did. They also thanked the club for the help in getting to the camp.