September 1, 2023

Kiera’s ISS Experience

When I reflect on my experience at the International Science School (ISS) only one thing comes to mind: pure joy. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Sydney, Australia, I knew I was in for an incredible trip. Between our gorgeous view of the city (which the ISS Scholars shared living at Kincoppal) and the modern University of Sydney, the setting for our learning and bonding could not have been any more magical.

Throughout my experience at the ISS, I was challenged by the demanding scientific topics and intrigued by the abundant lab activities. My favorite lecture was a two-part session on quantum computing, which blew my mind because I never would have guessed that I had the capacity to wrap my head around such a daunting topic! Not only did I build a background in this new subject but began to create a framework for the process of creating qubits for the computing process!  

Aside from my other favorite lectures (such as fluorescence and dark matter), I was entertained 24/7 by the amazing crew of ISS “staffies”, who were our leaders and guides throughout the week. I got to participate in numerous group activities with my new friends from around the world! We went to the Taragona Zoo and saw koalas, visited a local observatory with lots of history, and even got to have a disco dance party the night of the Harbor Cruise around Sydney! 

There was never a dull moment during this incredible journey. Whenever we weren’t busy learning about STEM and conducting lab experiments, my friends and I got to share stories from around the world. Just in my immediate group I was surrounded by students from China, Japan, Scotland, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, and India! The diversity among the scholars made every conversation interesting… especially when you get to share treats and trinkets from other countries! I loved getting to bond over all the STEM related things we had in common, but what I enjoyed even more was learning about the cool foods, cultures, and traditions that are different than what I am used to back home!

Ultimately, my experience at the ISS was just unmatched. Getting the honor to represent the United States alongside the other girls from Higher Orbits was unreal and incredible.

I loved having the opportunity to share my love of space and science with the STEM students at the ISS who understood me most. I enjoyed the tricky lectures and the fun labs, as well as the group activities and meals together. I hope to see the ISS select more inspired and passionate students in the future so that this fantastic program continues to live on. I know that my trip to Australia was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I could never forget what a joyful experience I had with all my new friends.

About the author

Kiera Fehr is an enthusiastic high school student who loves space, engineering, scuba diving, and cross country running. She is a two-time Higher Orbits attendee and winning team member of the 2019 Series Go For Launch! competition. Her love of creative engineering has produced multiple state and national science fair awarded projects including stress testing 3D printed wrenches in space and a novel approach to termite methane production from broccoli consumption on the International Space Station. She has competed twice in the Broadcom Masters national competition and is a member of the Society for Science and the Public. She has also earned the Future City Society of American Military Engineers Award, Central Kentucky Regional Science and Engineering Fair Air Force Award, Lexmark Engineering Award, and was selected as a finalist for the KET Young Writers national contest. She aspires to earn a degree in aerospace engineering after graduation from high school.

Kiera Fehr

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