In December 2019, 9 of our senior students had the privilege of going to an exciting expedition to NASA, Houston, USA along with a staff member. This added further exposure and experience to the learning journeys of our students.

The two-week long program was filled with adventurous discovery, development and lots of hands on learning. The students were able to grasp a lot of knowledge in a very short time due to the excellent structure of the program and being in a learning environment so different from the usual.

The trip had a few meaningful checkpoints. The first was the NASA tour itself. It started with the NASA mission control room. Experiencing the real thing first hand, the students got a taste of what it would be like being part of an actual space mission. Next, they saw the Saturn 5 rocket. This launch vehicle has been used by NASA for 6 years and is the one which supported the Apollo program for exploring the moon. There were also some rocks from Mars and the Moon on display. The students were exhilarated when they got to touch the space rocks!

Next came the Space University at NASA. There, they got to participate in a number of STEM activities. It started off with them teaming up and making rockets and launching them for testing, making thermal shields and cryogenics and testing them as well. All were also truly engaged in designing Mars rovers/robots. There were coding activities, giving a touch of digital technology learning experience to it. The students not only saw actual astronauts training in the neutral buoyancy lab, but they also got a chance to experience neutral buoyancy first hand by a scuba diving routine. There was plenty more to stimulate the learning minds of the kids in the form of water robotics and designing their own Mars habitats.

Students got their spoonful of NASA history by learning about the Gemini, Apollo and Mercury missions. There were lots of exhibits on display for the students to connect the stories being told. Any questions or confusions were clarified by expert guides who were giving them company all the time on the guided tour. There was some information shared about upcoming missions to the Moon and Mars in their new Orion capsules. Another highlight of the trip was when the students got to meet astronauts Brian Duffy and Nicole Stott. Learning about this subject from experts who have done it first hand is not a common thing to come by. Those were indeed some of the most fulfilling moments for curious minds. Students got a real insight into what being an astronaut is really all about.

All this apart, there were also some development programs to participate in. These included situations to enhance the students’ problem solving, critical thinking and leadership skills. They got to exercise their brains nicely with challenges which were given to them daily. Students also got another rare opportunity of mission control simulation and space suit engineering activities. What followed was a trip to the Houston museum of natural sciences. There was a dinosaur exhibit there which included some very rare fossils which was pretty intriguing for everyone.

The tour concluded with some fun. Everyone went to watch an NBA game – the Houston Rockets vs San Antonio Spurs. At the end of the program they all graduated from the Space University and got their Space school graduating certificates!

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