On Friday, February 3, 150 Wellington High School students boarded buses for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for a day of hands-on STEM education. Over the course of the day, they learned the history of America’s space program, toured the Atlantis Shuttle, experienced a zero-gravity simulator, and took part in a simulated shuttle launch. A highlight of the day was a motivational speech from NASA astronaut John O. Creighton. Students ended the trip by rotating through math and engineering seminars that tested their own astronaut capabilities.
“NASA didn’t mean much to me before today, but now it seems real. It is a real part of our history, and maybe even our futures,” said David, a Wellington High School student on the trip. “I never realized how much time it took to build the shuttle – a lot of thought and effort went into it. There are a lot of stories here that I want to hear.”
“There are no words for when the screen lifted and we saw the Atlantis shuttle,” said Juan, a Wellington High School student on the trip. “It was a very beautiful moment. I had goose bumps all over my arms.”
“I’m just in awe of this entire experience,” said Lauren, a Wellington High School student on the trip. “My favorite part was when the astronaut was talking, because that’s what I want to be one day. I’m even looking at colleges that specifically focus on space programs!”
“Some of these students haven’t even been out of Palm Beach County before, so this trip is incredible for them,” said Wellington High School teacher, Suzi Grbinich. “It is such an inspiring day. It helps the kids realize that any one of them could do this, if they try hard enough.”
Over the past five years, more than 1,000 students have been able to participate in the STEM education day at Kennedy Space Center, thanks to the Jacobs Family Foundation of Wellington. These students are enrolled in the schools’ most challenging STEM courses, including AP chemistry, physics, calculus, and engineering. This trip allows them to experience first hand where a career in science, technology, engineering or math could lead them.
“It is remarkable to see the students’ excitement and hear how this trip enriches their overall educational experience,” said Lou Jacobs, a member of the Jacobs Family Foundation Board of Directors. “These inspirational students are the generation that will go to Mars.”