Story written by: Jake Stoope, ACS Communications Intern
Arlington High School’s Academy of Engineering and Innovation, or AEI, made the three-hour trip to Huntsville, Alabama last week to give students a unique opportunity to learn from scientists at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. There, the Academy participated in NASA’s Pathfinder Space Camp, a program designed to grant students hands-on experience in the various careers NASA has to offer.
The AEI is comprised of exemplary students that have an academic focus on STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Their desire for postsecondary opportunities in science and engineering is the factor that distinguishes them from their Arlington peers. NASA’s Pathfinder program acts as an introduction to “Space Camp.” Like the STEM classes at Arlington High, the space camp provides real-world application opportunities. Dr. Kristen Hennessy-McDonald, AEI advisor, led the trip and is grateful her members had the opportunity to learn from the people they look up to. “The whole point is to have students come in and learn about space exploration, learn about the different jobs you can have in space and be able to see what it would be like if they were an astronaut or someone working on the ground in mission control,” she said.
Students had the opportunity to participate in a space mission simulator. Each of them played a specific role in the simulation, allowing each student to use their unique skills in a real-life space exploration role. They also enjoyed a G-Force Accelerator, an ultra-gravity simulator.
AEI’s mission is to see their members’ interests in STEM thrive, and Nicole Turner, a junior at Arlington High, can testify to just that. “I got involved because I’ve always liked STEM and science, and the academy really peaked my interest. The opportunity we have to go on trips with our friends makes it special. Anyone with an interest in STEM is welcome.”
View photos from the trip here (Courtesy of Dr. Hennessy-McDonald).