In a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity two Danebank students got to “be” astronauts when they visited NASA during the holidays.


Accompanied by Head of Science Mrs Lyn Rootham, our Year 9 Science students Lara Bonner-Smith and Racquel Mezrani flew over to the USA for the HASSE Junior Space School Program. They spent a week in Houston and a week at the Huntsville Space Camp and Astronaut Training Facility. The trip was organised through the Alliance of Girls' Schools of Australasia.



During this time the girls were involved in group-based work, with activities including the carrying out simulated space missions, astronaut training, problem-solving challenges, visiting the Johnson Space Centre, the Health Museum for a practical Cell laboratory session, building and testing heat shields, and listening to Astronauts talk inspiringly about their careers.

The program was very challenging and exhausting but they also got to “relax” at a Major League Baseball game!











Our students were inspired and challenged, and were great ambassadors for Danebank. Below is a short blog tracking their unique experience within the Space Program.

Sunday 2 July

3:15 am We woke up for a flight to Dallas, another flight to Nashville (passing signs to many interesting place names light Chattanooga and Memphis) then we hopped on a bus to Huntsville.

Arrival at the camp was very exciting with a range of rockets and planes on display alongside many space age buildings.

We settled in, were issued with camp shirts and listened to a talk in the Saturn V museum from a camp leader about the Gemini and Mercury missions.

Long day of travelling!

Monday 3 July

Firstly, we watched a movie on private commercial companies building reusable space craft and solar vehicles e.g. Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin (owned by Amazon Director).

Next was the rocket building activity which consisted of groups of 4 building and decorating a rocket from a set old components. The Multi axis trainer allowed practice in environments with constantly changing orientation.

We heard information about history and structure of the International Space Station (ISS).

In the museum the girls visited POC mock-up which communicates with and controls the ISS. The Marshall Space centre has the real deal and is in charge of all the operations on the ISS. The presenter gave an Explanation of how different aspects of the ISS are controlled and how the logistics work. We were able to walk through a couple of the mock up Space Station modules.

The group played a "Planning a mission to Europa" game. Racquel and Lara were members of the 4 person winning team.

Mission planning in mock-up of Space Station modules. Each student was assigned a role and given time to familiarise themselves with the role she will play in the actual “mission”. Roles reflect real positions on missions. This was a very well received activity which the girls really enjoyed.

Tuesday 4 July

The day started with a power point presentation ‘Astronomy Show’.

The morning camp leader, Shamika, sat the girls in an area where they could look out at the rocket park then talked about the Apollo program, including some interesting less well known facts.

More time was then spent on the design and completion of the Mission Patch for their particular team. This was followed by viewing one of the museum sections on discoveries and inventions linked to the space program.

After lunch the girls moved back to Astrotrak to complete the design and build of their rockets which they will launch tomorrow.

The following activity was held in the Sagittarius classroom where the girls investigated different ways of looking at the Universe. The striking central display in the Space School grounds is the Space Shuttle Pathfinder with mock-up of fuels tanks.

Mission ISS (International Space Program). The girls did a very good job of landing the Space Shuttle, even though the bay doors were still open. All experiments were carried out correctly and the Space Walk section of the team were the only group in 2 weeks to have completed the task in the allotted time.It was then the daily debrief in which the girls reviewed what they had learnt during the day.

Prep for fireworks for July 4th celebrations began. It was an impressive and colourful 4th of July Fireworks display viewed from the Rocket Park.

Wednesday 5 July

Space probe ride to demonstrate the forces experienced during launch and landing. Gravity force: similar to the Rotor. Demonstrates the effects of forces involved when an object is spinning.

IMAX movie Dream Big.  Very inspiring stories from young women and men who have overcome great hardship and disadvantage to achieve careers in engineering in which they have gone on to help others in poor countries or areas, it was wonderful. Next was the 1/6 gravity chair which was very fun and quite tricky to master efficient movement.

Mission patch completion and submission. Each group of 4 girls had to work together to produce a mission patch. They must submit it with an explanation of the significance of each component. This follows the practice of each shuttle team producing its own unique patch, including the names of all crew members.










Rocket launch was then in an open area adjacent to the Space Centre was set up to safely launch the rockets that we had made.

It was then Luna mission practice. The girls have already done their Shuttle Mission, but this time they are going to the moon.

Lastly was the Trivia Quiz. All the members of the Junior Space camp assembled in the eating area for a quiz on the information they have heard, read and transcribed into their individual camp books this week. Results not yet released, but our team, Atlas, was very keen and well prepared.

For more information on the program go to http://www.ivicon.com.au/junior-space-school-astronaut-training-for-youth/


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