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Girard Students Head to Space Camp

Hadas Ali and Antoine Seals, Class of 2024

Hadas Ali and Antoine Seals, Class of 2024

Do you remember your first time on an airplane?  A memorable experience for so many.  When flying, stargazing, or thinking about your future, did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut and traveling even further throughout the sky and beyond?  Space has been a fascination and a childhood dream for generations ever since the first moon landing – or, depending on your age, the first time you watched the movie Space Camp as a child!

Hadas Ali and Antoine Seals, Class of 2024, lived that dream this past summer by attending Space Academy in Huntsville, GA. There, they spent an exciting week participating in hands-on STEM experiments, engineering activities, and space flight simulations as Space Academy® trainees.  This trip, like others before it, was made possible thanks to the generous support from the Girard College Alumni Association and committed Girard Alumni.  The dream to send Girard College students to space camp originated with Charles Hicks ‘74 and continues thanks to his fellow Girardians who ensure this tradition endures.

Hadas and Antoine took part in this experience for different reasons, though when hearing their stories of their Space Academy® experiences, they both share similar memories and highlights.  For Hadas, Space Academy was an opportunity to explore a career in engineering. She knew this experience would provide her with the chance to learn new skills and help her learn and think like an engineer.  She enjoyed the week so much she now dreams of working for NASA after she obtains her engineering degree.  Antoine consistently looks to experience new things and learning new skills.  Space Academy® provided this for him.

Hadas and Antoine joined 13 other trainees on Team Isidis. Together they spent the week learning about the history of space camp and space exploration, visiting the museum to seeing equipment and ships from years past, and interviewing current Astronauts. They won the Commander’s Cup Patch, awarded to the team that completes the most activities during the week with the highest accuracy score.

Team Isidis took part in launch missions to the International Space Station, the moon, and Mars. Hadas most enjoyed being the Flight Commander on one of these missions while Antoine appreciated the role of Flight Engineer the most, as he fixed a satellite!  The team trained on the 1/6th Gravity Chair and the Multi-Axis Trainer.  They put their creative thinking skills to work on engineering design challenges, including creating a space suit that was comfortable, provided warmth, protected from radiation, and ensured proper pressure regulation. They designed, built, and launched a team rocket while ensuring their “egg-ronaut” did not get injured during the launch. It was a good thing their scores for freeze dried ice cream were not factors into their team score, since both Hadas and Antoine didn’t like it.  Antoine’s review was that it “tasted like Styrofoam.” They received the Commander’s Cup Patch with a certificate at their graduation ceremony before flying home, with visions of equipment design and commanding a team still on their minds.

Since returning home, Hadas was accepted into the Access Engineering program at The University of Pennsylvania, a hands-on engineering enrichment program for high school students. Undergraduate volunteers lead this fast-paced year-long weekend program providing a challenging and fun environment to explore various aspects of engineering – from computer science, mechanical and electrical engineering to materials science, chemical and bioengineering.

STEM and STEAM opportunities will soon become a daily part of the Girard academic and residential offerings as new Centers are added for our elementary, middle, and high school students. Thanks to generous donations by Viginia and Henry Grabowski, Ph.D., class of ’58, Steven Spencer, MD, MPH, MBA, class of ’94 and challenge matching gifts from numerous supporters like you, Girard College is undergoing an extraordinary update to our classrooms and learning spaces.

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