Commonwealth Journal

Local News

April 6, 2013

Meece students test their mettle as astronauts during Space Camp

Somerset —  

Have you ever tested your mettle to see if you’d cut it as an astronaut?
A group of Meece Middle School students got that chance in March.
“This is stuff that most (people) would never get to see in their life,” said Scott Dunn, science teacher at Meece.
Dunn has helped groups of students make the trip to Huntsville, Ala. every other year for the last two decades to take part in a Space Camp program — one that exposes students to the challenges and history of space travel. 
The 42 students and seven adults stayed two nights at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center campus and received what one would consider some of the most authentic science lessons available.
The students got to experience space-like situations through equipment such as the 1/6th gravity chair — “We’d been going for 20 years and never had gotten to do that,” said Dunn — which simulates the equipment used by Apollo astronauts for moon walk training. The students also got to use the multi-axis trainer (M.A.T.), which simulates the disorientation astronauts feel when their ship enters a tumble spin during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, and the centrifuge, which spins quickly to press an object outward with the centrifugal force.
Students were even able to feel the pressure of four times the force of Earth’s gravity, thanks to the G-force trainer.
Payton Burkett, 12, had a few words of wisdom to anyone who may find themselves experiencing the G-force trainer.
“If you lay your head back and keep your eyes up, you don’t know you’re spinning,” said Burkett. 
And to top that off, the students worked together to successfully pilot and command a space shuttle mission. 
“We were given parts and we had to figure out if a problem was to occur, we had to find a solution,” said 12-year-old Natalie Dick. 

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