USC students fly to 'moon' and back

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USC students fly to 'moon' and back


Prue Jones, Hannah Ward and Renee Laing

19 July 2012

19 July 2012

Three University of the Sunshine Coast students know what it feels like to be propelled into orbit to repair a facility on the moon after taking part in simulated exercises at the NASA Space Camp in the United States.

USC Primary Education students Prue Jones, 33, Hannah Ward, 24, and Renee Laing, 25, have returned to Sippy Downs with a heightened passion for space science after spending five days at the US Space and Rocket Centre’s Space Academy for Educators last month.

The high-achieving students — who were awarded scholarships to cover travel and camp costs — said they enjoyed many virtual challenges and other scientific experiences offered by the camp.

“My role in one of the space missions was to fix a window on the Aurora Lunar base, so we were decked out in all the astronaut gear, wired up, and communicating with mission control,” Prue said.

“Lunar pods are used to help create the sensation of being in space. The team leaders step back and let you take full control of the mission, so you are under pressure and there is a lot of team work involved to complete the tasks and land the shuttle safely.”

Renee said she had enjoyed connecting and learning from the American teachers and staff at Space Camp.

“I am looking forward to sharing resources and ideas with the teachers I met over there, and we even discussed having buddy classrooms over the internet,” she said.

“Some of the things from their curriculum could be adapted to suit ours and vice versa.”

For Hannah, the design challenges at camp were the highlight of her trip.

“In one of the exercises, we were given certain materials to create a shield between an egg and a blowtorch, so we were basically simulating the protective qualities of the shuttle,” she explained. “These types of exercises can be adapted to use in the classroom.”

The trio is eager to share their knowledge and are set to conduct space presentations at local primary schools.

“I did my first presentation at Tewantin State School and spent two hours just answering questions — the kids were so intrigued,” Prue said. “I overheard many of them saying they wanted to be an astronaut.”

Michelle Widdicombe

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