“Why don’t we go to the moon anymore?” This question was asked by Gavin, a green-haired incoming 6th grader entering LaVenture Middle School. Gavin along with twenty other middle school students recently participated in Launch Camp, a NASA-inspired space program run by Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County. The youth came from all across Skagit County, from La Conner to Concrete, all united by a desire to better understand space.
Although the youth were disappointed that NASA no longer sends astronauts to the moon, they were excited by the possibility of establishing a Mars colony at some point in their future. During the four day camp, they learned how to program robotics, designed 3D printing models, learned about many of the principles of flights, and culminated the camp by launching water rockets. The activities enabled them to imagine becoming NASA scientists or even Mars colonists. At the end of the camp, all of the youth expressed a desire to continue learning about science and technology.
Many of the robotics and rocketry activities at Launch Camp came from the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline (NESSP), a NASA-funded educational outreach program. “The kids loved the idea that NASA was investing in them,” said Nathan Allen, co-leader of Launch Camp, “We worked to make it clear that NASA invests in the future of science – that used to be moon landings but now it’s our youth.” During the school year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County will continue to use the NESSP’s curriculum resources to empower youth. In addition to robotics and rocketry, youth will learn about environmental science and contribute data to NASA scientists through the NASA Globe program.
Throughout the week, the youth at Launch Camp asked many excellent questions about space and the universe. But, on the last day, most of the participants asked the questions “can Launch Camp last longer?” and “will there be Launch Camp next year?” Youth in the Clubs will be empowered by Launch Camp and the lessons they learned for the rest of the school year.