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AFSPC Reaches Out To Space Camp Youth

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
by Staff Sgt. Daylena Gonzalez
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
Peterson AFB CO (SPX) Nov 04, 2009
Could a U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Space Camp grad be the next U.S Air Force F-16 Pilot or GPS System operator? The Air Force only hopes so. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is located in Huntsville, Alabama. "Space Camp" is what the center is commonly known as and provides residental and day camp educational programs for children in various age groups and adults.

Space Camp is a series of educational programs developed to motivate youth to study mathematics and the sciences while educating them about the history of space. The programs include space oriented, aircraft themed, and outdoor oriented programs.

The students/campers range from grades nine through twelve. Most are focused on educational opportunities and careers with math, science, engineering, and technology as the core.

U.S. Space and Rocket Center found 93% of the trainees take more science, particularly Physics and Chemistry. 91% surveyed reported their camp experience inspired them to take more math, particularly calculus.

Nearly 50% said their camp experience influenced their college major. 74% surveyed said they learned about careers in space and aviation at camp. Finally, 45% said their camp experience influenced their career choice.

Along with the programs offered, the camp also features an astronaut or fighter pilot on-site each week. This gives young campers a realness, or more so, a face to their dreams.

This summer Air Force Space Command, career aerospace professionals had the opportunity to share their backgrounds and experiences with the students.

Lt. Col. Ryan Pendleton, chief of operationally responsive space integration said, "Well, As a 'son of Alabama' it was my distinct pleasure to visit and speak to the students at the US Space and Rocket Center camps."

The AFSPC aerospace professionals were both given a tour of the space camp facilities, then met with some of the students.

"I had an hour in front of US, Canadian, and Australian students from both Space Camp and Aviation Challenge," said Lt Col Pendleton. "In the first 30 minutes I covered my personal background/career and a summary of the AFSPC mission brief, I also took the opportunity to share what it's like to work with space systems."

"Having Air Force career aerospace professionals share their backgrounds and experiences, does more in an hour than we might do in a day," said Executive Vice President of U.S. Space and Rocket Center Ralph Bryson. It's real!

Students want to hear from professionals that can share the real world challenges they might encounter...Lt. Col. Pendleton and Lt. Col Johnson's presentations were the talk of the camp for several days. "I can do that". "They are not different from me". "He struggled in physics too". Comments like that were observed following each presentaions"

The whole idea of having Air Force Space Command officers speak to Space Camp and Aviation Challenge students while in TDY status came from Lt Col Burke Hare,deputy chief cyber operations division. Lt. Col. Hare attended the camp in his teenage years and later worked in the Aviation Challenge program while awaiting active duty service in the Air Force.

Lt Col Hare was motivated to advocate for this idea when he heard General Kevin Chilton, then Air Force Space Command Commander in a briefing on his shuttle missions to the Headquarters.

Gen. Chilton said, "When people ask me how to get involved in space, I tell them: If you want to get into manned spaceflight, go to NASA. If you want to get involved in spaceflight, come to Air Force Space Command."

"The officers from Air Force Space Command who shared their experiences with space and aviation trainees have inspired the next generation of pilots, scientists, engineers, and explorers. They put a personal face on the Air Force Space Command mission," said Lt. Col Burke Hare, deputy chief, cyber operations division.

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