In our latest installment of Feature Friday, we shine the spotlight on Union Catholic juniors Josh Hunsinger and Jasmin Crotty, who each had great experiences this summer when they attended the prestigious Advanced Space Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Hunsinger and Crotty, who attended the Space Academy through a program with the SFIC (Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children), a partner of the Archdiocese of Newark, enjoyed one week of high-level educational and team-building activities, which included building a rocket, flying jet aircraft simulators, and completing an extended-duration Mars mission simulation. They also got to experience a moonwalk using the 1/6th Gravity Chair and a spacecraft tumble in the Multi-Axis Trainer.
Here is our Q and A with Hunsinger and Crotty -
Was this your first time attending Space Camp?. If so, what got you interested in attending and how did it come about?
Josh: Yes, this was my first time attending Space Camp. My counselor, Mrs. Kahney, reached out to me about the scholarship opportunity because we had discussed taking an engineering class at school. I was open to a new experience that would expose me to one of my potential career paths, so I looked into the program and decided to apply.
Jasmin: Yes, it was my first time attending Space Camp. I am really interested in Aerospace engineering and learning more about space really interested me.
Did you have to apply to be chosen to attend Space Camp and what did you have to do in order to be considered to be selected to attend?
Josh: I applied for a scholarship opportunity for Space Camp through the archdiocese, so I had to write an essay based on a prompt they gave me, and I submitted my transcript. Once I was accepted, the scholarship recipients attended a reception to meet the benefactors.
Jasmin: I had to apply for the Inner-city children scholarship. I had to write an essay about why I wanted to go to Space camp. I also needed teacher recommendations. You can also sign up and pay to go to the camp.
What types of different things did you learn and what impressed you the most about your experience at Space Camp?
Josh: We touched on a bunch of different topics, all pertaining to the field of aerospace, with presentations and hand on activities. We learned about the history of NASA and the space program, built a space suit to protect an egg, and simulated missions in the International Space Station. I was really impressed by how much time we spent doing real experiments and activities, like the space suit I mentioned earlier. Most of what we did was hands-on, and they gave us a pretty large amount of freedom to work on our own. We built and launched model rockets, made rovers, tested makeshift heat shields, and a number of other physical activities.
Jasmin: We learned about Space, Stars, the space race, and different astronauts. What impressed me the most about Space Camp was the amount of different things that you think you know about but then get there and learn so much more.
Take me through what an average day was like at Space Camp from the beginning of the day until the end?
Josh: Every part of every day was scheduled, from wakeup and lights out to meals and activities, and we were constantly accompanied by our counselor. We would be woken up pretty early every morning, about 7:30, and we would not return to the dorms until at least 10:45, with the day packed with activities. Most days I would have an activity before breakfast. A presentation or two and a few more activities based on the information in the presentation would be squeezed in before lunch. Some less related, usually pretty fun, activity would usually also take place then. After lunch activities and presentations would continue until dinner, some outside or in various buildings on the surprisingly expansive campus. We toured the space museum one day when it was too hot to go outside. Dinner would come, followed by more activities, including the simulated missions and SCUBA scattered throughout the week. Finally, we would get back and have time to shower and wind down before lights out. There were barely any dull moments; barely any time was wasted during the day.
Jasmin: We woke up early and had breakfast, and then either had our first presentation or a fun activity. Sometime throughout the day we had our shuttle mission practice or had our actual shuttle mission. We had lunch in the middle and then after dinner we had another presentation.
How would you describe your overall experience at the camp, and what did you enjoy the most about it?
Josh: The experience was intense, eye-opening, and entertaining. The activities were engaging, and they did a good job of immersing us in the environment of the camp. Overall, I really liked it. My favorite memory was launching the model rocket we worked on all week. I had no previous experience in doing this, so when the rocket successfully flew into the sky and the parachute deployed, protecting our egg for the final time, I was in disbelief. I honestly expected it to blow up, but it went perfectly, which was exhilarating.
Jasmin: It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting a lot of new people, and still being friends with them. I really enjoyed doing our missions. One day, we had to climb up a 50 foot telephone pole and then jump off, we were harnessed in. Overall I learned a lot more about space and was really interesting
What are your plans for the future? Is a career in Space something you want to pursue? What do you plan to study in college and how and when did you become so interested in Space?
Josh: I thought that this experience would help me narrow down possible career choices, and the entire week was an eye opener that I thoroughly enjoyed; however, I think I need to explore the other fields of engineering and some business fields before I can be sure of my future. I was interested in the subject matter and the activities, so in the future I will definitely consider pursuing a space related field, but I am not entirely sure. As a kid, everyone said they wanted to be an astronaut, so that is probably where my interest started, but it came and went as I grew up. Space has always fascinated me, so I figured I should explore it as an option for a career. In college, I would be thrilled to study something related to space, but I am open to the possibilities that the world has to offer, and business has become an interest of mine. I will see how the rest of highschool plays out, and hopefully I can make the right decision for my future.
Jasmin: I might being going again next year, but for the Aviation challenge, which is more about flying planes. I want to study aerospace engineering in college. I have always liked stars and to also want to do something with space I wanted to learn more about it.