Students experience out-of-this-world activities at Deaf Space Camp
Each year students from all over the United States head to Huntsville, Alabama, for a week-long, hands-on learning experience in math, science, and technology at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. This year six students from the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD)-Mikail Baptiste, Juwan Blackwell, Johanna Cruz, Kelly Doleac, Mary Ann Gardner, and Emmanuel Njoku-and their science teacher, Mark Tao, attended Deaf Space Camp from April 29-May 4.
Deaf Space Camp introduces students to the technology and science that make space travel possible and to the training astronauts go through to learn how to work in zero-gravity environments. During their week in Huntsville, MSSD students participated in a wide range of activities, including simulated astronaut training, mission control operations, and team-building exercises.
"One of the favorite activities of the week involved scuba diving in a water chamber that simulates one-sixth of the gravity of Earth," said Tao. "The students worked underwater to make repairs to a satellite. Our students found that being able to use sign language made underwater communication easy." Other activities the students especially enjoyed included flying virtual fighter jets, building rockets, navigating ropes courses, and participating in a mock special ops exercise.
"Attending the Space Camp gave me a new perspective on careers involving space technology," said MSSD student Emmanuel Njoku. "A lot communication goes on between the space shuttle and the Mission Control Center from Earth. A career in space technology would be best suited for people who are able to handle themselves in fast-paced environments."
Since the founding of Deaf Space Camp in 1987, over 2,000 students and staff from the United States and other countries have attended. MSSD students participated in 2009, 2010, and 2012. (The 2011 camp was canceled due to tornado damage in Alabama.) To attend Deaf Space Camp, Tao said the MSSD students "must be taking or have taken physical science (space science), earn a 2.5 or better GPA, and have a positive attitude." On top of the experience of Deaf Space Camp, each student who participants receives one college credit from the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
"Space Camp turns our students into motivated achievers," said Tao. "The experience they gain from teamwork, decision making, and problem solving is phenomenal. Space Camp makes a huge impact on the students who attend. They really appreciate the opportunity to be around other deaf students who find math and science cool."