Girls achieve dream to go to space school

Havelock North Village Press - - News - BY ASTRID AUSTIN

For many, go­ing to NASA is sim­ply a dream. But for two Hawke’s Bay stu­dents and a teacher, it has be­come a re­al­ity.

On Mon­day, 165 young women, in­clud­ing Iona Col­lege year 8 stu­dent Mia Holt and year 12 stu­dent Zil­lah Daysh, jet­ted off to the United States for 14 days, as part of the CASE Space School ex­pe­di­tion to NASA.

Al­though all stu­dents will be spend­ing the ma­jor­ity of their time in Hous­ton, Texas at the John­son Space Cen­ter, they are split into two camps — the ju­nior space school for years 8-10 and the se­nior space school for years 11-13.

The ju­nior girls will also spend a week in Huntsville, Al­abama, the home of the US Space and Rocket Cen­ter, where they will com­plete their as­tro­naut train­ing and par­tic­i­pate in as­tro­naut train­ing sim­u­la­tions and var­i­ous space mis­sions in their teams.

At 13, Mia was re­ally ex­cited to em­bark on her first trip to Amer­ica. She says it was pretty easy to con­vince her mum to let her go.

“I think she just wants me to have a good ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I signed up be­cause I have al­ways been re­ally in­ter­ested in space and I wanted to ac­tu­ally not just see pic­tures, but to be in the mo­ment.”

She was most look­ing for­ward to meet­ing “the artis­tic as­tro­naut” Nicole Scott, who was the first per­son to pro­duce a wa­ter colour paint­ing in space.

“One day, I hope to achieve my goal, which is to work at NASA. It’s quite an ex­trav­a­gant goal, but I think with all the learn­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence that I will get, it def­i­nitely will help.”

Zil­lah, 16, has al­ways loved space and any­thing to do with science in gen­eral.

“I think it’s how we don’t know much about what’s out there. There is so much that is undis­cov­ered.”

With her last year of high school just around the cor­ner, she thought it would be the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to see if this was the ca­reer path she wanted.

Napier Girls’ High School head of learn­ing (science) Philipp Otto has a vested in­ter­est in bring­ing more STEAM (science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, art and math­e­mat­ics) op­por­tu­ni­ties to his stu­dents and will be join­ing the se­nior camp.

He has taught science — chem­istry, physics and Earth and Space Science — at NGHS for 18 years, after spend­ing six years teach­ing at schools in Ger­many and France.

“I view science as a gen­er­a­tional ve­hi­cle as well,” he says.

“We need to pass on the pas­sion for science and the habit of cu­rios­ity to the next gen­er­a­tion to make fu­ture dis­cov­er­ies which will have ben­e­fi­cial im­pacts on our lives.”

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