Sunday, May 04, 2008

Deaf Week at SPACE CAMP



Since I had forgotten I wanted to be an astronaut between the school years of kindergarten and my junior year of high school, I never really had the chance to go to space camp...that is...until now.

Yes, it is true, I spent a six days of my April vacation in Huntsville, Alabama at SPACE CAMP'S Deaf Week. The Learning Center sent 6 sixth graders, me and two middle school teachers to Huntsville for a week of shuttle simulations, model rocket launches, space history, science lectures, and spinning chairs to ride in. Many months ago, my middle school supervisor had asked, during a department meeting, "Would any of you be willing to go to SPACE CAMP during your April vacation?" As many of you can imagine, my hand shot up. Here was the opportunity to go to SPACE CAMP, and get paid for it!

There were many Deaf schools at SPACE CAMP during the week many interpreters floating between groups with our other teachers picking up the slack.

It is still not clear who had more fun, the sixth graders or me. The other staff and I had a break rotation, but instead of going back to my room to read or catch up on sleep, I would head directly for the huge Saturn V rocket or the shuttle landing simulator.

We even got to do a staff shuttle mission so would know what the student would experience. I got to be the shuttle pilot - orange flight suit and all. I worked with the commander to solve all the problems that the flight controllers gave us. It was excellent. The students later did theirs and had video screens in which to sign to each other instead of communicating over the radio.

Needless to say, I was exhausted by the end of the week from the excitement of it all, and from seeing how excited our students got. It was a fabulous week and we all got a taste of what it's like to do a space walk, walk on the moon, feel what it's like in a spinning spacecraft, and many other things.

The SPACE CAMP staff loved our kids, and our counselor is now planning on taking sign language classes this spring. Many of the counslors were eager to learn the language and worked well with interpreters. Everyone was impressed with how our kids worked together and flew their missions. It made me very proud and I was very excited to see how much all the kids got out of the week. So maybe there are some future Deaf astronauts among us. I mean, don't they realize that if someone is space walking and the radio malfunctions...their going to need to communicate in ASL! I hope someday we see a Deaf astronaut.

Well, now we're back from Space, and trying to get used to life on Earth again. It is a beautiful world we live in. And don't forget to look at the stars every now and then. It's frightening how easy it is not to notice them. To infinity...and BEYOND!