Initial Australia Thoughts from Leia

I am going to be honest when I say that I’ve never written a blog post before, but there’s a first time for everything J. I guess the best thing to start with is when I first got interested in space and science.

When I was around five years old, I remember my dad reading a book about asteroids and stars. I was so fascinated that I would never stop talking about space and would constantly bug him to tell me more. Eventually, he told me about the possible ways the world would end. Among these ways was was a possible asteroid impact. This one really freaked me out. I mean, it was so bad that I wouldn’t go to sleep at night, so he made up all of these stories about how the government had these secret missiles that would constantly target incoming asteroids just so he could get some sleep. I still feel kind of bad (Whoops…).

A few years later, my parents got divorced. I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time, but I knew that life would need to change. Two separate houses, two bedrooms, a new schedule. Even so, things fortunately weren’t that bad, and I am very lucky to have been able to have the relationships I had with my parents. At some point, for whatever reason, my interest in space kept coming up, and, somehow, I was lucky to have been with my dad on Monday nights after school because Monday nights was the time all of the space shows were on on the Science Channel. I genuinely attribute most of my obsession with cosmology to these science shows.

In eighth grade, my mom came across an advertisement for a Go For Launch! program in Deerfield, Illinois. I was, and still sort of am, very stubborn and generally refused to try anything new, but for some reason, I knew I needed to do it. Both my mom and I were very surprised at my response, but it eventually led to the most exciting moments of my life. The first time I attended the program in 2017, we lost. But after a whole other year to think of another experiment, I got to come back again and present a whole new idea. This one would eventually lead me and my team to finally win our local event.

After having so much fun at this one, I decided to sign up for another event about an hour and a half away a couple weeks later. This time, our eventually went on to win the series and would be launched to the International Space Station. Finding out about this was honestly the best day of my life. I knew I had to keep going, so I applied for a space camp scholarship through Higher Orbits but unfortunately was not selected. I do believe, however, that this led me to apply for the opportunity to go to Australia for the International Space School.

I knew it was a long shot, but I had to apply. I constantly edited my application for weeks and even worked on it in our hotel room at Disney World while my sisters were having fun going on rides, just so I had a decent chance. All of the hard work (and a few missed fast passes) paid off. I was so excited!

I have no idea what to expect from this once in a lifetime opportunity, but I know that no matter what happens, it will be an amazing experience that I will never forget.


(This blog was written by Leia Spaniak – one of the 5 students who will attend the International Science School in Australia with Higher Orbits this summer.)



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