The students were registered, the space swag table had been set and Astronaut Don Thomas was introducing himself. For once, I was not experiencing Go For Launch! through our Higher Orbits Facebook albums, but with my own eyes and through my own camera lens.
I started as an intern with Higher Orbits in 2019 and have since only experienced the exciting GFL! events through archived photos, videos, and student recollections. I have seen the student excitement and curiosities bubble at the surface only in social media posts and webinars through our Space at Home kits.
When I stepped foot into Alpena, Michigan, I truly had no idea what to expect of the students or the event itself. Despite all the photos I had seen and worked with, they only covered the surface of what goes on at a Go For Launch! event.
Every day of the event is filled with fun STEM activities, experiment design sessions and discussions from Michelle and Astronaut Don about their experiences in the space industry. Overall, every aspect leads to an out-of-this world opportunity. I was thrilled to experience it firsthand and finally be the person behind the camera.
Along with designing an experiment that could possibly end up in orbit, the discussions and talks given by Michelle and Astronaut Don were both exciting and inspiring. When Astronaut Don spoke about his time in space, it was fascinating to hear about his experience with microgravity, his crewmates, the view in orbit, and the space food. For me, it really brought the stars closer than ever before. Hearing Michelle’s experiences about getting involved in the industry and continuing to pursue her dream were absolutely inspiring. Admittedly, I would get so involved in the discussions that Michelle or Astronaut Don would lead, that I had to keep reminding myself to get up and take pictures for our Facebook album!
The content was incredible, and you just can’t get that information quite the same way through Google. They led fun activities that engaged student communication, teamwork, and critical thinking skills, all of which contributed to the overall student’s ability to develop a strong experiment with their team.
"It was also interesting to witness the progression of student growth over the three-day event. It was kind of incredible to watch their personalities unfold before the lens and into their experiment design."
Aside all of that, the event is just fun. Maybe not all the students at our Alpena event will enter the space industry, but they all certainly took something from our event. Some might have strengthened their social, critical thinking, teamwork and communication skills. Maybe they got to learn some cool things about space, make friends and build their confidence. It was awesome to see the students who had not spoken at all on day one, raising their hands to ask questions and contribute to discussions on day three.
I not only enjoyed my time at our Alpena event, but it truly meant a lot to me just to be a part of the Go For Launch! experience!