To Infinity and Beyond
Each year students from all over the world 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)-Dalton Arnes, Claudia Giordano, Kyle Lauderbaugh, Deanna Phillips, Sierra Saylor, and Nino Taylor-won scholarships to attend the camp accompanied by MSSD science teachers Mark Tao and Emily Schreiner.
At Space Camp, MSSD students teamed up with three students from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as the Von Lions mission specialist group. Their program was called "Advanced Space Academy" for students ages 15-18 years old. It is the only Space Camp program that includes underwater astronaut training using scuba equipment.
"Our science teacher, Mark Tao, really helped to orient us before Space Camp by showing us pictures from last year's camp and describing the activities," said Saylor. "It's important to have good science and math skills for Space Camp. If you love science, Space Camp is a great experience."
The MSSD students also met other space enthusiasts from around the country, including students from schools for the deaf in Utah, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Iowa.
Over the course of the week, students engaged in simulated shuttle missions, simulated flight control scenarios of flying and landing aircraft, scuba training, survival techniques for land operations, ropes courses, model rocket building and launching, introduction to orbiter systems, simulated repairs in space, IMAX movies on such topics as space junk and the Hubble Space Telescope, and team building exercises at the Area 51 Leadership Reaction Course.
"One of the things that surprised me was when the multi-axis trainer spins you around. You get dizzy because you don't spin twice in the same direction, but you don't get sick because your stomach remains at the center of gravity," said Phillips. "I also liked learning how to do flight control in space; it's not easy to abort a mission or stop crashes!"
The Von Lions team trained and successfully completed two simulated shuttle missions. On graduation day, Arnes was given the "King of the Hill" award for his team for earning the highest score in the flight pilot competition for which he received a NASA mission patch.
"I enjoyed seeing our MSSD Space Camp scholarship recipients go through the program and learn through a first-hand space science explorer experience-a real-life experience with specialized trainers and equipment that could not be simulated in our school classrooms," said Tao.
Since the founding of Space Camp for deaf and hard of hearing students in 1987, over 2,000 students and staff from the United States and other countries have attended. Each student who participates in Space Camp receives one college credit from the University of Alabama-Huntsville. MSSD students participated in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013.
Read more information about Space Camp for deaf and hard of hearing students.