by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Twelve-year-old Emily Boyce knows exactly what she wants to do in life.
“I want to be the first woman on the moon and the first person on Mars,” she said.
Emily was one of 54 middle school children who, for one week, joined the Federation of Galaxy Explorers at Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy, one of Peterson Air Force Base’s feeder schools at 4220 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
The children and their instructors called themselves Moon Base One Camp. They broke up into two teams – they designed their mission patch, built models of the moon, studied space suits, busted rocks to examine their core material and launched their hand-made rockets.
It was very exciting, said Rebecca Root, 11.
“When I was in fifth-grade I learned about the solar system,” she said. “I wanted to come here and study space.”
The Federation of Galaxy Explorers is an educational program that seeks to get children interested in space-related science and engineering, said Lt. Col. Nery Grieco, from the 310th Space Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit at Schriever Air Force Base. Colonel Grieco, who volunteers regularly at Swigert school, was camp director.
“We hope we can show them how science impacts everyday life,” Colonel Grieco said.
Twenty-six volunteers from Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB helped set up camp and taught classes. Many of the instructors have taught at the National Security Space Institute, including Colonel Grieco.
“It was a joint effort,” she said. “The donations came from both Peterson and Schriever.”
The children began the lessons with learning what it would take to explore the moon and live in space. They also talked about why they might need to explore living on the moon. One child answered, “because we are depleting our resources on earth.” Colonel Grieco was impressed.
“It tells me that they have studied these things in their schools and they are really learning it,” she said.
This past school year, Peterson AFB launched the “Adopt A School” program that aims to bring Airmen and civilians from Peterson AFB into the schools as volunteers to tutor, mentor and be involved in special events like space camp.
“This was an exciting opportunity for the kids from Peterson and Schriever to have an opportunity to learn more about space and do fun projects,” said Lisa Ballard, 21st Space Wing school liaison officer. “It was an invaluable opportunity for Peterson and Schriever to partner with our community school and provide volunteers for such an exciting week of space camp activities.”
Lt. Col. Michele Gaudreault, from the 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, said she knew children would be interested in the camp because she ran a Federation of Galaxy Explorers after-school club at Swigert school and it went over well.
“We think we would like to do again next year, the kids who did it really enjoyed it,” she said.
Swigert Aerospace Academy opened last school year with its new curriculum of project-based learning. Teachers work together on team projects that center on a space theme, said Swigert principal Larry Bartel. Children love learning about space, he said. He had to turn children away from camp because it filled up so quickly.
“We don’t have all the bells and whistles that other space camps do,” Mr. Bartel said. “But, you can talk to the kids. When they leave here they are excited and jazzed, and they come back the next day eager and ready to go.”
n Anyone interested in volunteering in the Peterson feeder schools in the coming school year can call Ms. Ballard at 556-6141.