Lo­cals ex­plore space at NASA camp in US

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS - ~ with Judy Ryan

Lo­cal teenagers Stephanie Har­ris and Natasha Jones can boast spe­cial­ist train­ing that few other peo­ple in the South­ern Rive­rina, or even Aus­tralia, have ex­pe­ri­enced.

Both are re­cent grad­u­ates of the NASA Space Camp held in the United States of Amer­ica.

Stephanie and Natasha, from Jer­ilderie and Ber­ri­gan re­spec­tively, took part in the pro­gram which in­tro­duced them to the won­ders of astro-physics and sci­ence af­ter a self-ap­pli­ca­tion process.

They were each en­cour­aged by their teach­ers at Fin­ley High School, where Stephanie com­pleted Year 12 in 2018 and Natasha Year 10.

Other Aus­tralian par­tic­i­pants in the pro­gram were mainly from Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Perth and larger re­gional cen­tres, with the lo­cal girls be­lieved to be the only par­tic­i­pants from a small coun­try town.

The first week of the tour was spent vis­it­ing mu­se­ums and ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties in Los An­ge­les, New York, Philadel­phia and Wash­ing­ton.

The sec­ond week was spent at Space Camp, which is part of the Space & Rocket Cen­tre, Alabama.

Ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded a va­ri­ety of astro- naut train­ing ex­er­cises and en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges.

Stephanie said it was ‘‘ed­u­ca­tion heavy’’ but ‘‘to­tally worth it’’.

‘‘We vis­ited three space shut­tles, scuba dived un­der wa­ter to sim­u­late anti grav­ity, de­signed our own rock­ets and even tried out the G-force sim­u­la­tor.

‘‘What I was able to take away is the wide va­ri­ety of ca­reer op­tions avail­able in astro physics.

‘‘Some might think it’s closed off but if you’re pas­sion­ate you can find your way into the field.

‘‘We as a group all sup­ported each other and re­ally gelled,’’ Stephanie said.

Natasha said she was able to de­velop a greater pas­sion for space by par­tic­i­pat­ing.

‘‘I’ve al­ways had an in­ter­est in space and the his­tory of NASA, the progress they’ve made and how much ex­plo­ration they still have to do,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m more into bi­ol­ogy and chem­istry but it does to some de­gree ap­ply with what we learnt and I still had a great time.’’

The trip was not all ed­u­ca­tional based, with the girls also en­joy­ing vis­its to Univer­sal Stu­dios and Dis­ney­land while in Amer­ica.

Photo cour­tesy of the Space & Rocket Cen­tre, Alabama.

Stephanie Har­ris and Natasha Jones on grad­u­at­ing from the NASA Space Camp pro­gram.

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