Students practice NASA experiments

BLACKFOOT — Students attending National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Summer of Innovation have built and conducted a variety of experiments throughout this week. The students attended this camp at the Mountain View Middle School in Blackfoot.
"Attendance has been steadily growing but the average attendance has been 44 students each day," said Aaron Thomas, organizer of this science camp. Thomas is a professor in chemical engineering at the University of Idaho.
This is the second year for this program that is sponsored by NASA through the Idaho Space Grant Consortium.
Students spent the week building and performing science experiments. Through the week, students have built and fired rockets, made solar ovens and kites. They studied airplanes, built spectroscopes and designed hot air balloons and egg drops.
"They also trained like an astronaut," said Susan Thomas, Aaron's wife. "They studied nutrition and ate astronaut food."
"We are implementing activities found on the NASA website," Thomas said. "It's a lot of work."
"The bottom line of this camp is to get as many Native Americans into engineering as possible," Thomas said. "We want to get kids interested in science."
Hispanic students are also included in these camps in Blackfoot.
This year, Blackfoot is the first site to host this camp. Camps will also be in Burley, Kamiah, Plummer, Owyhee and Salmon.
Besides Aaron Thomas and his wife, Jonathan Hyghfill has also taught this week. is the other teacher. Assisting at the camp are U of I students Intan Karina and Neil Sing.
This is the second year this NASA grant has been available.
This Thursday, 8 students from Blackfoot who attended the NASA camp last year will be traveling to Orlanda, Fla., to see the last Shuttle flight lift off.
Mountain View Middle School science teacher Alan Southern will be one of the chaperones.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Southern said. "I'm lucky and fortunate I get to go."
"If Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS 135) goes off on time, it will lift off at 11:26 a.m. on Friday," Southern said. "On Sunday, there will be a tour of Kennedy Space Center and there will be lots of resources for teachers. It's going to be icing on the cake."
"I hope the students know how significant this is," Thomas said.
One hundred students will travel to see the last Shuttle lift off. Students and their chaperones who qualified for this trip all attended the NASA camp last year; the teachers participated in last year's Teacher Development Workshop.
Students attending this lift off from Cape Canaveral are from Blackfoot, Plummer, Lapwai, Nampa, Gillette, Wyo., Dugway, Utah, Tooele, Utah, and Polson, Mont.
The NASA grant will pay for all expenses for these 100 students and their chaperones.

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