Harriet Douglas, Year 9, is still coming back down to Earth after experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend NASA Space Camp.
Harriet spent two weeks in the United States of America learning about cutting-edge STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers and the science involved in the space industry, as well as meeting like-minded girls from other schools. Harriet joined 23 other students, including former Woodford House student Charlotte Wray who now lives in Australia, from six New Zealand schools who took part in the programme organised by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia in partnership with Actura.
Harriet said it was an incredible opportunity to be inspired by some of the best scientists, to get exposure to scientific careers and learn valuable life skills. “I knew that during this journey we would dig deep into science and space history as well as digging deeper into who we are and who we want to be,” Harriet said.
The journey began in Huntsville, Alabama where they experienced practical hands-on training and attended space lessons.
“A typical day would include some exercise, a simulation, a lecture and a training mission like trying to land a crew of Astronauts on the moon and pick up another crew and bring them safely back to earth,” Harriet said. They spent the final week in Houston, Texas where they visited museums, heard from inspiring guest speakers and conducted science experiments.
“Two of the many things I found fascinating was the Spiny Dogfish Shark dissection and the DeBakey Cell Lab where we did DNA testing.”
“I also enjoyed hearing from Jonathon Cathermans who taught us The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and from Tom Nolan, who is mapping the moon for our return in the next five years. We also heard from an Astronaut Nicole Stott who painted the first watercolour in space.”
As an aspiring rocket scientist, Charlotte said Space Camp was the best opportunity she had ever had.
“This experience was surreal and incredible. I learned a terrific amount about US space history, space science, rocket building, aerospace engineering, and so many life lessons and goals that I will take with me for the rest of my life,” Charlotte said.
Alliance of Girls’ Schools Executive Officer Loren Bridge said inspirational experiences like Space Camp help to equip students for the rapidly changing workplace and other challenges of the future. ‘In a world of continuing technological advancement and innovation, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are critical for Australia’s future. Yet women are still hugely underrepresented in STEM fields.
‘Girls’ schools are working hard to change that. By providing learning environments and opportunities free from gender stereotyping, research shows that girls are up to 85% more likely to pursue STEM subjects.
‘We hope an experience like this ignites a fire within these young women to go out and start changing the STEM gender statistics,’ she said.
Ms Chloe Johnson, Communications Manager