Every December, the Education department of Delaware North, the Brevard County school system, and several corporate sponsors work together to create Brevard Space Week, an interactive experience designed to inspire the next generation of space explorers and engineers. Sixth grade students from every public and charter school in the county participate in a full-day study trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC), where they put into practice a variety of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) principles they have been learning in the classroom.

Students at the Rocket Garden

Students at the Rocket Garden

The excitement begins early in the morning when students board an official Kennedy Space Center bus, which picks them up at their school and delivers them right to the doorstep of the home of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. There they are greeted by a member of the Education staff, who serves as their personal escort and instructor throughout the day’s activities. Students practice their engineering and communication skills as they work collaboratively to build a truss bridge that can span a sixty-centimeter gap and support up to six kilograms. They use critical thinking and math skills to complete their Explorer’s Log Books: estimating the size of the shuttle components, evaluating the various space programs for importance, comparing and contrasting the performance of the space shuttle with a commercial aircraft, and determining the effects of microgravity on the human body. Student artists whose space-themed work is selected for display in the IMAX Theater receives special recognition from an astronaut.  Interactive and hands-on experiences such as the Shuttle Launch Experience, the Astronaut Training Simulators, the Atlantis tour, and the Re-entry Slide engage even the most reluctant learners. Finally, the students are presented with real-life role models as NASA astronauts and engineers share their stories and encourage students to pursue an education that will help them achieve their biggest dreams.

This year’s Brevard Space Week took place between December 2 and 16, coinciding with the historic launch of Orion’s Exploration Flight Test-1. In just nine days, the Education staff and school volunteers guided 4,802 students, 302 teachers, and 212 parent chaperones through the exhibits of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex — creating a total of 5,316 special guest experiences! About half of the students said they had never been to the Visitor Complex before, so this experience is one they will long remember.

Brevard Space Week has been growing and evolving for twelve years now, and the partners hope to see many more students get on board with KSC and NASA in the years to come, as new technologies and new space programs continue to inspire the next generation to reach for the stars!