Two Cartersville brothers took part in an out-of-this-world experience during their summer vacation.
Evan and Colin Jeanneret of Cartersville attended Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, July 21-26 and spent the week learning how astronauts live through hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.
The sons of Matt and Lara Jeanneret trained with a team that flew a simulated space mission to Mars while other teams went to the International Space Station or the moon. The crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extravehicular activity, or a spacewalk, before returning to Earth in time to graduate with honors.
The educational program, which operates year-round, uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects. Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA.
"Evan has been interested in space since he was very young," Mrs. Jeanneret said. "He memorized all of the planets, moons and major dwarf planets when he was 5 and loved to tell everyone about each of them. He loves watching space documentaries on television and going to Tellus Science Museum and has wanted to be an astronomer for many years."
Colin is "very interested in aviation and all things science and technology," she said.
"I hoped that Space Camp would inspire them to continue their love of science and encourage them to continue to learn more," she said. "They both really enjoyed their time at Space Camp and hope to go again next year for the next level program."
Colin, 10, said he wanted to attend the camp to "learn how astronauts train to be an astronaut and what they need to do to go into space."
"We did space simulators that tested different movements you have to do as an astronaut, like how to stop if you are spinning," he said. "We learned the history of rockets and space stations and the ones that did not turn out so well. We designed a Mars base as a team and also talked about the science of what happens in space. For example, if you drink soda in space and you try to burp, you will throw up. This is because the carbonation in the soda doesn’t stay together like it does on Earth so it mixes together with everything in your stomach and comes out when you burp."
The Cartersville Elementary fourth-grader said his team designed the base for the Mars mission.
"Other teams made a Mars mission team logo, and one group did a model of what the Mars base would look like," he said. "Another team decided how much money each thing would be on our base. At the end, everyone got together and decided on which ideas were best and made a presentation. Everyone had really great ideas."
Colin added his and Evan's crew won the outstanding team award at the awards ceremony at the end of the week, which was a "really big deal because there was a lot of competition."
Besides the Mars base and "cool simulators," Evan, 12, said he and his brother also got to build and launch rockets, which was his favorite activity; play games with their team; and meet astronaut Wendy Lawrence.
"She did a presentation and talked about the food and conditions when she lived in space," he said. "We even got to sit next to her at lunch."
Colin said his favorite activity of the week was the spinning simulator "because it doesn’t make you dizzy."
"It makes your body think you are staying in one place even though you are going all around," he said.
As for one important thing they learned from the camp, the boys had totally different thoughts.
Colin said he learned the three stars in the Space Camp logo represent the three space mission tragedies: the Apollo 1 fire that took the lives of three astronauts; the Challenger explosion that killed six astronauts and a teacher; and the Columbia disaster, in which seven astronauts died.
Evan, who went to the camp to "have fun and learn more about space," said he found out that "someone launched himself with rockets on a chair, trying to get to space."
"They never found him," the seventh-grader at Cartersville Middle said. "If you want to go to space, you should do it the proper way."
The brothers both said they enjoyed their time as an astronaut trainee, although there was one aspect Evan disliked.
"I didn’t like being in a big bunk-bed room with lots of people, but everything else was lots of fun," he said.
Colin said he thought the camp was "very nice."
"It wasn’t really what I thought it would be," he said. "There were a lot of kids there."
While the boys enjoyed the activities and the experience, they don't want to be an astronaut when they grow up.
"I don’t think I have the strength to push myself as hard as they have to to make it," Colin said. "Also, the longer you stay up there, the more it affects your bones."
There are several reasons that being an astronaut isn't Evan's career choice.
"There is no gravity in space," he said. "You can’t eat the same way you can on Earth, and it is hard on your body. I want to be an astronomer. I think studying planets is interesting, and I really enjoy studying black holes."
More than 900,000 trainees have graduated from a Space Camp program since its inception in Huntsville in 1982, including European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Dr. Kate Rubins, Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Christina Koch, who is serving onboard the ISS.
Children and teachers from all 50 states and almost 150 international locations have attended a Space Camp program.