By Peter Jasinski
Sentinel & Enterprise
August 18, 2016
Photo Gallery | Astronaut visits Boys & Girls Club
“I was looking out at city lights and the night below me and I saw a small zip of light go by,” the former astronaut said.
The light, it turned out, was a shooting star passing below him.
“Here on Earth, when you want to see a shooting star you look up at the sky. When you’re in space and you want to see one you look back at Earth,” he said.
“It’s so beautiful what you can see from up there, so the more people we can get up there to that view, the better off we’ll be,” said Thomas.
Go For Launch, an educational and experimental space camp run by the nonprofit Higher Orbits was held in Leominster from Monday to Wednesday and put local middle and high school students through a series of activities focused on STEM subjects, team building and creativity.
“We’re not necessarily trying to make rocket scientists, though we’d be thrilled if that’s what they want to do. We just want to show them all the possible careers available to them in STEM fields,” she said.
“We have thousands of these jobs going unfilled and we, as a society, need to encourage students to go into these fields.”Lucas also explained that the 17 students that have attended this week’s camp have been an especially fun group to work with.
“We’ve had really brilliant young minds who are inquisitive and aren’t afraid to dig into something even when they might not be so sure of themselves,” she said.
One such student was Benjamin Cote, a Fitchburg High sophomore who’s always dreamed of being an astronaut.
“It’s been really interesting just to be around them and learn directly from the source,” Cote said of his week learning from Thomas and Lucas. “This has been better than anything I could’ve hoped for.
Cote said he hopes to go on to study aeronautical engineering, but a future in space travel isn’t necessarily the goal for other space campers.
Akilla Sanjay and Mihika Abraham traveled all the way from Hopkinton to attend the camp even though they both are more interested in going into the medical field.
“I didn’t know much about space so I was curious about this and it’s definitely sparked my interest even more,” said Sanjay.
Her friend agreed.
Over the course of the week, teams of students at the camp also designed experiments they thought should be carried out in the zero-gravity environment of space.
The best of these local students’ ideas will go on to be judged alongside proposed experiments from teams in similar programs across the country.
The winning team’s experiment will be carried out by NASA scientists during a future mission on the International Space Station.