NASA: THE trip of a lifetime
Aspirations academies have for the last 10 years organised educational field trips to Houston Texas and Cape Canaveral Florida. During this time we have developed both industrial and educational links in both of these regions. Our Main focus is to provide our students with an insight into the world beyond the classroom. Our selection process for this trip does not solely rely on academic prowess but also on the ability of the students to produce work under pressure, communicate in a variety of methods and to develop their interview technique.
Aspirations are proud of their unique No Limits curriculum where, our vision is for an authentic education for this fast-changing world for children from the age of 2 to 18. We want all students to achieve high levels of success in a broad range of examinations at a variety of ages, whilst at the same time equipping them with the knowledge and skills required to play an active and successful role in today’s highly competitive, fast-changing world.
This involves the development of high levels of essential power skills which research tells us that current employers are looking for. These power skills allow for the development of the following competencies; communication, collaboration, grit, tenacity, perseverance and resilience, critical thinking and problem solving. The NASA trip plays a pivotal and flagship role in promoting this style of learning to our students.
The aim of this visit is for the students to experience and understand what it is like to be working at the frontier of science, and to meet the engineers, scientists and astronauts who will take humanity to the moon, Mars and beyond. Through reflecting on past successes and failures and looking to the future technologies the study visit aims to inspire the participants into aspirational thinking and redefining their own futures. Indeed as part of this trip we visit Rice university where we attend lectures and enjoy a tour. This has directly led to students applying for and attending Rice university for their degrees, something they would have never thought possible without this experience.
Whilst on our trip we visit local elementary schools spending a day with the students there involved with hands-on activities like rocket building and launching. This then culminates in an assembly style event where our students present about themselves and their life in England. This always goes down well with the young American students. We organise evening meals which involve current NASA engineers and also those on internships. Depending on operational commitments we will dine with Astronauts and engineers from both present missions as well as veteran members of the Astronaut Corps. The students then spend the evening discussing the finer points of the job, training and how to achieve this.
Another key part of this experience is getting to go behind the scenes at NASA. We have experienced unprecedented access both in Texas and Florida. We get to go into the VAB and walk on Launchpad 39a whilst in Florida and in Houston we go into mission control and have private tours. Indeed we have been able to make friends with Ginger Kerrick who was the first Hispanic female to be flight director at NASA. She regularly joins us and gives impromptu presentations and talks to our students. Along with the current Director of KSC and an astronaut on 4 Shuttle Missions Robert Cabana, who came onto our minibus to sit and talk to the students.
The participants on this trip are expected to record the experience through diaries and images to allow them to share it with a wider community whilst in America and on their return. On their return the students visit a number of primary schools in their area. They will deliver inspiring assemblies about their visit to NASA. They will also deliver a number of hands-on workshops with the primary students where they will be involved in designing, building and firing their own rockets.
The Aspirations NASA trip provides a focal point for our educational ethos and underpins our key values of self worth, engagement and purpose. Providing our students with real life experience of using and developing further their skills and competences.
– Simon Sterland, Operational Lead for NASA Trips