By Laura Almaraz
Students from the Gateway to Technology and Aerospace class at White Sands Middle School experienced a simulated NASA mission May 9.
This was the third year Brian Claar took his class on the trip, and it is one of several class trips he likes to plan for his students.
“I want to get them intrigued in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). And NASA is part of White Sands. This is a great partnership,” Claar said.
“It takes time and resources, but it’s worth it,” he said. “When there’s a roadblock, now the kids know why.”
During the first part of the trip, students learned about the planning and testing part of a mission. A project can take four years to complete. The work includes coming up with an idea for a mission and proposing it to NASA. Then it must be built and tested.
The class felt the frequencies that rockets are tested with before launching and learned about important physics concepts like G force and the arc second measure of an angle. They saw a pre-recorded rocket launch and the view of the Earth from the rocket in outer space.
“I learned what G force is,” said Jared Brown, who has been on the field trip twice. “It’s pretty cool.”
Students then headed to the control room, where they simulated a rocket launch. Each student had an assigned job as they sat in the control room wearing headsets.
“This is my favorite part,” said Brandon Boudreaux. “You get to do what NASA people do.”
Sgt. John Free, of the 2nd Engineer Battalion, joined his son on the trip.
“I love it. My son loves it so much he’s going into aerospace technology,” said Free. “It helps him further his career.”
During the field trip, students learned a little about grad student Keri Hoadley’s project. She is currently working on building the payload for the Colorado High-Resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph (CHESS). Hoadley has been working on the project with Dr. Kevin France for about three years as part of her dissertation at the University of Colorado.
“The main goal is to do this study, but also as a university, we have an education mission,” said France. “I’m so glad we have the opportunity to show kids this age because this is the age where they learn. “
CHESS is an instrument the University of Colorado is building for NASA to study the raw materials that make up the solar system, planets, and people. Launch and recovery testing of the rocket will take place later this month at WSMR.