2018 Space Summer School – Science & Technology
Another summer begins and so does Summer Schools’ time! Once again we are in charge of designing, preparing, and coordinating all the activities for ESA‘s ESAC‘s annual Space Summer School. Over a hundred kids come to this daycamp every year looking up for fun and friends, but also hoping they will learn awesome new facts about space science and build some useful space-technology skills. Not to disappoint them, we must make a big effort and win a race against time creating devices, writing software and designing new activities for them. But with the latest technology at the service of education and scientific dissemination; and our professional team of physics, engineers, programmers, and educators; success is guaranteed.
We carry out many activities every day and by the end of the month we have accomplished more than a handful of them, so it would be preposterous to describe them all here. But we have intended to make a representative abstract of our achievements in the following lines.
- 3D Modelling software: With this activity, we introduced the campers to the 3D modeling world. After a short briefing, they were asked to switch on a computer and design their own satellite with a user-friendly interface. The models would be 3D-printed afterward and some of them looked really good.
- Satellite Building Game: In this game, each group is to gather up lots of information about scientific instruments, satellite components, powering possibilities, and launching vehicles to design and build the best possible spacecraft for the mission they have been assigned to. While having fun they learn about team-work, science, and the space industry.
- Full-body-sized scanner: To scan all the campers and give to each one of them a 3D model of themselves, we built from scratch a full-body-sized science-fiction-like rotatory 3D scanner.
- Virtual Reality Experiences: An immersive tour through the ISS or an interactive adventure in Mars. With last-gen VR-googles, professional software, and our powerful computer, everyone could enjoy these experiences.
- Multimedia material: 3D-printed scaled models, recorded videos, 3D animations… tons of multimedia material was used throughout the camp to explain the BepiColombo mission, launch vehicles, space food, CubeSats, satellites, the ISS…
- Robotics Workshop: To introduce them to robotics, we arranged a workshop where they could choose blueprints for many robots and build them. The younger ones’ robots were easier to build and once they were finished playing time began, meanwhile the most experienced campers were fighting the keyboard to program the robots on their own and make them accomplish the task they had chosen for them.
- Electromagnetic Spectrum: It is kind of hard to do astronomy during a day-camp, but we wanted to show campers how can we deduce the composition of atmospheres or molecular clouds that are farther away than any place ever visited by the humankind. We arranged emission lamps and built some home-made spectrographs to simulate the working environment of an astronomer that is measuring spectrums in astronomical objects.
- Water-Rockets: An easy way to simulate a rocket launching scenario is to launch high-pressure water-rockets which everyone had previously built on their own.
- Ariane 5 Rocket Physical Simulator: Our physical simulator and demonstrator shows the four main structures of an Ariane 5 and how they work. It’s not like you can put it into orbit, but it’s helpful to understand how this is done with real launch vehicles. Through a mini-game, you have to interact with the different stages and check how they are assembled together or how they are ejected once they are no longer needed.
- Biology Workshop: Astrobiology, which includes life in other planets, space agriculture and living in the ISS; is a new field of study to which campers were introduced during this workshop. They learned about space food, possible alien environments, and even planted they own food to make experiments.