Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama: A Meaningful Experience

By: Robert Balwinder

Huntsville, Alabama is the site of one of the most fervent of kids’ dreams: Space Camp. NASA sponsors a space camp in Alabama to help kids experience what it is like to be an astronaut. Most programs last one week, and they are also offered in conjunction with other community programs, such as 4-H. Attendance at Space Camp can comprise some of the most meaningful and interesting experiences of a child’s life.

As expected, there is an age limit at the Space Camp in Alabama with the full camp program being offered only to kids of twelve and above. Many of the activities organized at the camp are likely to be problematic for younger kids and also, the kid needs to be old enough to stay for the week away from home. However, some special programs are offered at the center even for younger kids.

The programs and activities at Space Camp are designed to awaken creativity and curiosity. The kids learn to design a lunar colony, and attend classes and seminars to know about the history of the space program. They learn about the Soviet space program as well as the United States program in these classes. They are also taken on trips to the museum to gain an education experience.

But Space Camp would not be fun if sitting in classes and designing lunar colonies is all that went on. There are life size mock-ups of space shuttles to explore. The quarters themselves (complete with bunks) look like they could be on a space station or colony, not somewhere in Alabama. But the best part of Space Camp is the “astronaut training.”

All kids who attend Space Camp are put through astronaut training. Space suits are fitted for the kids so they get to experience what that feels like. There are centrifuge rides to help the kids feel the pressure of gravity and zero gravity simulations to help them experience weightlessness. Using simulators, they are also taught to "fly" spacecraft like the shuttle. Not to forget, the kids can use a contraption that helps them experience what it feels like to walk on the moon.

Once the training is complete all the Space Camp participants are given the opportunity to run a simulated mission. Everyone on board the ship is assigned a specific role such as that of a pilot, or a payload specialist to play in completing the mission successfully. Special attention is paid to sequencing and time because these elements are important in real space missions. If you make a mistake, your simulator shakes you around and you know what it is like to crash and burn.

Depending on how much time you have, you may get to run the mission more than once. Thus you may be able to play different roles. This way you not only have fun but also learn more about the space program by doing more.

Kids can spark off an interest in science and Space after attending Space Camp. This unique program provides a complete Space learning experience that takes the kids away into an exciting world so different from its actual location in Huntsville, Alabama.

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About the author: Robert Balwinder is the chief writer at Alabama Home, there's a wealth of knowledge on the website, plus their free newsletter is well worth signing up for too. Read many more interesting articles on Alabama at:
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