For Ryanne Brown the highlight was practicing a space shuttle landing. For Kayla Allen it was taking part in a simulated shuttle mission. ¶ "It was so awesome I felt like an astronaut," said Kayla, a 17-year-old junior from Clearwater Central Catholic High School. Kayla and Ryanne, an 18-year-old senior from Gibbs High School, were among 160 students from 20 countries and 28 U.S. states who recently attended a weeklong leadership training academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., sponsored by Honeywell, a technology company. (Both Kayla and Ryanne are children of Honeywell employees.) ¶ Besides simulated shuttle missions, students experienced what it's like to walk on the moon, designed, built and tested their own rockets, and participated in discussions on science, technology and engineering. ¶ The two students talk about their experience with Times Correspondent Sylvia Lim:
What were some of the highlights of your trip?
Kayla: My No. 1 is that we got to do a "mission" in a simulator that was built just like a real orbiter … I was a mission specialist and got to do the experiment. They hoisted us in 90-degree harnesses and put us in space suits while doing our experiment. It was so awesome I felt like an astronaut!
Ryanne: During the trip I was able to take part in a practice space shuttle landing while taking the role of the pilot, I was able to fly on flight simulators similar to that of what real pilots use, I climbed up a 50-foot rock-climbing wall, jumped off a 32-foot pole, I was able to take part in leadership seminars to help me become a better leader, and I also learned how to extract DNA from a kiwi fruit using Dawn dish detergent and salt.
What did you learn?
Kayla: I now know about all different types of engineering. Also, we extracted DNA from food, so that was so interesting to know what DNA truly looks like. And of course we learned a ton about space and the reality of astronauts. But all in all, I feel through this week I have learned how to become a stronger leader in taking action for my future.
Ryanne: I learned all about space exploration and astronauts (what they eat, how it feels to have no gravity, how they have to work out every day to keep their muscles strong), tips to be a better leader such as learning how to work with people you don't get along with, I learned about genetics and how knowledge of the field is used to help people live better and prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
What are your plans after high school?
Kayla: My plan is to attend University of Florida or University of North Florida after I graduate in hopes of becoming a pediatrics physical therapist. My long-term plan (is) to one day be a commercial astronaut. But we'll see where the future takes me.
Ryanne: After high school my dream would be to attend a major Florida university majoring in chemical engineering.