2018: United Space School

I’m Isabelle Roberts from New Plymouth and I’m currently a year 12 student at New Plymouth Girls’ High School. I have lived here almost all of my life but I want to move somewhere much bigger that is more exciting and has more opportunities for entering the space exploration career path. I am very grateful to have been one of the two students selected from New Zealand to attend the FISE International Space School. This is a two- week-long school held in Houston, Texas where students break into teams and plan a mission to Mars- with each team being responsible for certain aspects of the mission. As well as that, we had speakers give us lectures on their areas of expertise. My favorites were a lecture on the physiology of the human body in a micro-gravity environment and counter measures taken to minimize the effects of this, and of course, astronaut, Sunita Williams who came and spoke to us about her experiences on the International Space Station. In amongst all of the mission planning, we went on excursions throughout Houston, and I think it’s safe to say that having a tour of the Johnson Space Center was the class favorite.

Through USS, I was able to make so many amazing friends that I talked to prior to meeting in Houston, or only just met in Houston, and still talk to almost every day. I cannot express the amount of love I have for all 46 other students that were in the 2018 class from all over the globe.

Science has always been a passion of mine, as it explains everything that is happening around us and can unlock almost any mystery that may present itself. Until last year, I was never particularly interested in space and space exploration but since attending USS, I definitely know that I would like to pursue a career in the space exploration industry. I find it so amazing how they send people into space to discover so many interesting things and I would like to be a part of that process in the future.

This opportunity has allowed me to learn so many things about myself and academically. Through this experience I learned how I can overcome a lot of anxieties I may have when with lots of people or in a stressful situation. This experience also helped me gain confidence in myself, as I was anxious about not being smart enough before I went. As soon as I got there, I realized that almost everyone thought the same of themselves and I shouldn’t doubt my abilities so much. In terms of my academics, I learnt so many interesting things. The work that I was doing within my team really challenged me and I learnt lots of new things relating to take-off-procedures, landing procedures, engines and engineering. From the entire mission process, I learnt what it really takes to put a mission together and how many important parts there are that cannot be forgotten. All of our speakers taught the class about their fields and I learnt about things that I had never thought about or taken into consideration- such as how your eyesight actually changes in space!

I really appreciate the funding that AWIS very generously gave to me which allowed me to go on this trip.