When Frederick Oglesby crawled out of the makeshift planetarium
set up last week at The University of Southern Mississippi for the
GEAR UP Mississippi space camp, his eyes sparkled as brightly as
the constellations he'd just seen inside.
was cool," a star-struck Oglesby said, emphasizing each word.
rising freshman at Hattiesburg High, was one of 36 eighth-graders
selected from Burger Middle School to attend the weeklong program.
Split into two camps, from July 5-9 and from July 19-23, the summer
program encourages students to use math, science, reading, writing
and computers to simulate a Mars landing. On July 24, both camps
will travel to Stennis Space Center together for a daylong field
excite students about science courses, the program did just that
for Jamie Nelson, 14. "I've never really been a science person
before, but this program has opened my eyes to a lot of things,"
she said. Nelson said her favorite part of the camp was when they
used bottle rockets to learn the concepts of rocket flight. "I
also liked learning how to find the Big Dipper. I'd never seen it
before," Nelson said, holding a star chart she'd just learned
how to use about a half hour before going inside the portable planetarium,
which was assembled in Harkins Hall, home of the space camp.
Mars discovery data, the students design and conduct a simulated
manned expedition to the Red Planet, which they achieve using computer
and video technology. Video and graphic manipulations place the
designers in photographs to illustrate the models in realistic scale.
While the students
do most of the work themselves, along the way they have professional
help. On Wednesday, campers held a video conference with an actual
jet propulsion laboratory in California.
Walker, one of the camp's teachers, said the exchange between the
students and the scientists at the jet propulsion lab went "beautifully."
"It was a real thrill for the students to talk to people who
do this kind of stuff for a living," said Walker, whose brother
David is also a camp instructor.
that some of the faces in the camp might be among the first we see
on Mars one day.
already been there with rovers. Now we have to find a way to get
people there," he said. Walker believes that the students in
the GEAR UP camp have every opportunity to be among the first Mars
pioneers, as long as they have the desire to do it.
that if you have passion for something, even something like space
flight, it's within your ability to do it," Walker said.
UP, a federally funded grant, was designed to identify which types
of programs will impact students finishing high school and entering
college, said Kim Walker, co-director of GEAR UP Mississippi. The
summer camp, which runs from 8:30 a.m. into the early evening, also
exposes attendees to some extracurricular activities, giving them
"a taste of real college life," Walker said.
taken them to eat at Seymour's, and to the game room and the Payne
Center," she said, "just things actual college students
Higher Learning representative Liz Smitherman, who handles recruiting
and public relations for GEAR UP Mississippi, attended Thursday's
session. She was impressed with the enthusiasm and eagerness with
which the students approached their learning activities.
been amazing to see how excited they are about learning new things,"
Smitherman said. "This camp allows you to put to use so many
of the things you learn in the classroom but never get to actually