By Scott Prater
A pair of Team Schriever teenagers beat out more than 100 competitors and will attend this year’s Space Camp on scholarship.
Megan Maikell, 17, and her sister Marissa, 14, will cover their own transportation to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center July 22-27 in Huntsville, Ala., but the Air Force will pick up the tab for everything else on the trip.
“Annually, we work with the U.S. Space Center and Rocket Center and provide 64 scholarships for children of active-duty Air Force, retirees and civilians in the Air Force family,” said Marcus Forte, Headquarters Air Force Services Agency youth specialist.
The process for earning an AFSVA Space Camp scholarship is very competitive. Applicants from Air Force bases around the world are screened at the base level and again at the major command level before moving on to the AFSVA level. Forte said AFSVA solicits volunteers to judge applications for school activity, non school activity, grade-point average and two written essays. The judges use a point system to determine the winners.
The Maikell sisters were informed of their scholarship offers last week.
“We were hopeful but not too surprised to find out both would be going to Huntsville,” said the teens’ mother Debra Maikell. “Megan earned a scholarship three years ago, so she’ll be going again and we knew Marissa’s GPA and other qualifications were very similar.”
Megan knew little about Space Camp and the Space Academy course three years ago when her father Stephen Maikell, a contractor for the 50th Operations Support Squadron, came home with a scholarship application. But, after experiencing the Space Academy course as a 14-year old, she returned to Colorado Springs with a new passion for space.
She attended an aviation camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy the following summer and now, the Falcon High School junior hopes to earn an appointment to the academy, where she plans to major in either space operations or aerospace engineering.
Of course, Marissa, an eighth grader at Falcon Middle School, has heard everything there is to know about Space Camp just from listening to her sister talk about what goes on in Huntsville.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Marissa said. “Not only am I fascinated by how astronauts work and adapt in a weightless environment, but I want to meet all the new people. Megan still communicates with kids she met at Space Camp her first time.”
Forte explained that AFSVA week at Space Camp is also international week, so the Maikells will be joined by youth from countries worldwide. Non-English speakers are even bringing translators along.
Marissa, along with her fellow 12 to 14 year olds, will be attending the Space Academy course, which covers the finer points of space exploration and the entire concept of NASA, according to Forte. All campers will work indoors and out, learning about supersonic flight, air-combat history and take on engineering challenges.
Megan will be attending Advanced Space Academy, which goes in depth on concepts like aviation and experiences such as astronaut simulators, space shuttle missions, rocket launches and robotics competitions.
“I was on the older side of the younger group when I attended Space Academy,” Megan said. “I saw a lot of the things the older kids got to experience, so I’m excited that I’ll be able to go scuba diving, run through the survival training and experience the advanced curricula.”
For more information about the application process for earning an AFVSA Space Camp scholarship at next year’s Space Camp contact Korey Kuykendall, Schriever youth recreation and fitness administrator at 567-2850.