Sep. 2, 2021 -- Monticello 8th grader Abby Burkle had an out of this world summer experience when she attended the weeklong Space Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The camp provides hands-on science, technology, engineering and math enrichment and activities designed for young people interested in space exploration.
Abby’s father had attended the camp when he was young and because she likes space science, she announced several years ago that she wanted to go too. Her parents told her she’d have to save half the tuition cost, but she ended up saving enough to pay the entire amount. And it was well worth it. “It was a wonderful experience,” she said. “Basically a place for space nerds to become even bigger space nerds.”
Campers sleep in quarters designed to mimic the International Space Station (ISS) and spend their days training with their team to fly a simulated space mission to the ISS, moon or Mars. Abby’s crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity or spacewalk. Some of their team-building activities even took place in a lake, a nice break during the sweltering Alabama summer.
Abby had so much fun that she’s already saving her money to return to the Advanced Space Academy when she’s 17, for which she can earn college science credits. She’s also shifted her career expectations: “Originally I was planning to work as a National Park Service historian but at camp I discovered that there are people at NASA who look at the history of space exploration,” a perfect way to combine her many passions.