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NASA trip is out of this world

Excited Fifth Year and Sixth Form Physics enthusiasts headed across the Atlantic Ocean for an out of this world trip as they visited NASA and experienced life as an astronaut.

The first full day saw the students visit the Kennedy Space Centre so that they could go to the Astronaut Training Experience Centre. The venue allows visitors to train like the next generation of space explorers who will travel to Mars – honing docking skills, navigating the terrain, experiencing the sensation of a spacewalk and harvesting vegetables in the botany lab. Upon leaving it was off to Cocoa Beach for an afternoon of free time.

Day three started off with a trip to WonderWorks, an ‘amusement park for the mind’. With six zones and more than 100 hands-on exhibits, there was lots to challenge our students and spark imagination. This once top-secret laboratory was located in the Bermuda triangle and, after an experiment went wrong, the laboratory was lifted to International Drive in Orlando where it landed upside down – resulting in the ceiling being under your feet and the ground above your head!

In the afternoon the group headed to iFLY for an indoor skydiving experience, preceded by a session explaining the theory involved. The vertical wind tunnel technology creates a wall-to-wall cushion of air on which the pupils floated. The feeling of defying gravity is certainly something that tied in with the theme of the trip.

The next day saw the group return to the Kennedy Space Centre where they had time to explore the centre itself and take part in an up-close tour of the venue – NASA’s primary launch centre of human spaceflight since December 1968. The highlights included a simulator which recreated the sensations of a shuttle launch, seeing the Atlantis Space Shuttle up close in its well-designed exhibit – which included interactive displays detailing its design and its missions – and a trip to see the Saturn V rocket with its lunar module. For lunch they sat down with Astronaut Ken Cameron; Lower Sixth student Oliver Grundy asked him about what was the hardest thing to adapt to when returning to Earth after a long mission.

Day five was spent at Universal Studios where they had a blockbuster of a day experiencing the world of Harry Potter, finding themselves in the middle of a real working film and television production studio and being transferred to the streets of New York and Hollywood with amazing re-created backdrops. They also attended the Islands of Adventure where they learnt more about some of the greatest myths, legends, cartoons, comic books, children’s tales and movies ever created.

The penultimate day saw them take an airboat ride on Boggy Creek where they spotted alligators as they skimmed across the water at speeds of up to 45mph. They then visited Florida Mall, one of the largest single-story malls in the United States and the largest mall in Central Florida for some shopping and lunch.

It was then time for the group to head to the airport for an early evening flight before landing early in Manchester on day seven.

Head of Physics Mrs Heather Fenton said: “The pupils were fantastic and threw themselves into every activity with such interest, joy and enthusiasm. I hope that this trip has brought to life the theory that we have learned, inspiring them as well as providing them with lasting memories and friendships.”