Houston, WGS has landed!

Updated 14th July 2019

Thirty Withington pupils and four staff have recently returned from the trip of a lifetime entitled ‘Texas Space STEM’ to NASA’s Space Center, Houston. Their trip was arranged by  Vision Education UK and they took part in a series of space-themed activities over the course of the week. They sent updates daily, and their daily reports are below. Most recent posts are at the top of the page.

The itinerary included:

  • Tour of Space Vehicle Mock-Up Facility & Orion Mission Control
    Rocket Build & Launch
    Thermal Tile & Cryogenics Swing Test Construction & Challenge
    Tour of Natural Buoyancy Lab
    Scuba Dive Astronaut Training
    VEX Robotics & VEX-End Effector Build Challenge
    Coding Competition
    Rocket Park Tour
    Starship Gallery Tour
    Brunch with Astronaut Clay Anderson

Day 7 – Saturday 13th July

Travelling home to Manchester. Everyone was tired out and were able to sleep for much of the homeward flight. All the girls had an absolutely amazing time and are full of inspiration about the exploration of Space!

Day 6 – Friday 12th July

(From Mrs Bradshaw)

Last day at the Space Center and we had an awesome opportunity to listen to Clay Anderson whilst enjoying brunch. Clay shared his experience of spending 152 days onboard the ISS and his multiple Space Shuttle flights as mission specialist and took questions from the girls.

We then toured the Space Shuttle Independence which was sitting on top of the Boeing Transporter. We also had a fascinating guided tour of the Skylab training mock up and Space galleries.

We finished our time at the Johnson Space Center with the all important visit to the NASA store.

Here is the answer to the question that everybody asks!

Our evening activity was at Kemah Boardwalk, a family friendly theme park and a tasty dining experience at Bubba Gumps.

Day 5 – Thursday 11th July

(From Mrs Bradshaw)

So you want to be an astronaut – have you got what it takes? YES we have!

We had a fabulous opportunity to visit Nasa’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab where we saw two astronauts descend into the 40ft deep pool and navigate around a life sized training copy of the ISS.

We spent the afternoon in a pool with the team who train the astronauts. Activities included controlling underwater vehicles and spheros. Highlight of the day was learning to Scuba Dive and completing an underwater construction challenge.

The evening ended with buffet and bowling American style. Awesome.

Day 4 – Wednesday 10th July

(from Mrs Bradshaw)

We began the day with an insightful lecture from Stacy who works on the purification of water in the International Space Station. We then headed off to the classroom for the Robotics Challenge. It was nice to be cool inside but we got hot and flustered whilst designing and building our Mars Rover to collect rock samples and then place them in the correct collection areas. We also took on a secondary challenge which was to code a robot to navigate an obstacle course.

Down time in the pool, dinner and an infamous Mrs Lee Quiz rounded off the day. Scuba tomorrow.

Day 3 – Tuesday 9th July

(from Mrs Bradshaw)

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blast Off!!! What an explosive start to the day with the rocket launch. Whose rocket made it into orbit? … Many returned gracefully to Earth but some plummeted into the field.

Next up we toured the Rocket Park and felt rather small and insignificant next to the Saturn V rocket used in the later Apollo Missions.

Next we headed back to the classroom to consider ‘Life on Mars’ by designing and building model habitats for Martianauts to survive up to 500 days in the harsh Martian-climate. Video presentations complete, we then headed out for dinner and films in the Space Center looking back at the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions.

All topped off with another frozen yogurt. Robotics tomorrow!

Day 2 – Monday 8th July

(from Mrs Bradshaw)

We have had a fantastic start to the trip with a tour of the Johnson Space Center ( Mission Control and the Space Vehicle Mock Up Facility) and had great fun learning about rockets. We have built our own two stage rocket – watch out for launch tomorrow!

We also investigated cryogenic capsule and heat shield design and construction and will be testing our models on Thursday. Will we save the Martianaut from the cold and the Eggstanaut from the heat?? Find out in a few days!

All this was topped off at the end of the day with the biggest frozen yogurt you have ever seen! Then Pizza!

Day 1  Sunday 7th July

Flight to Houston from Manchester.