Nine South African students recently travelled to the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre (USSRC) in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of the 10th annual Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy (HLCA). Between 23 and 27 February 2020, the learners joined 287 other students from countries across the world for a once-in-a-lifetime programme of real-world, hands-on activities spanning coding, computer science and astronautics.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Centre, a Smithsonian affiliate, is home to Space Camp Robotics, Aviation Challenge and U.S. Cyber Camp as well as the Apollo 16 capsule, the National Historic Landmark Saturn V rocket and world-class traveling exhibits. USSRC is the official visitor centre for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Centre and a showcase for national defense technologies developed at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal.
Open to high school students (from 16 to 18 years old), the programme is organised by Honeywell and the USSRC to encourage young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. With the 30 fastest-growing occupations globally all related to STEM topics, engaging students in science and engineering has become a learning fundamental.
“As a software industrial technology leader at the forefront of the internet of things, STEM subjects are extremely important to Honeywell. We have been sending African students to space camp since 2013, and in that time have provided an opportunity to 32 deserving learners to experience first-hand the practical aspects of aeronautics and space exploration,” said Sean Smith, President of Honeywell Africa. “HLCA has given some of South Africa’s bright young minds a new way to get inspired and excited by STEM subjects. We are very proud of the way our African learners have embraced the programme, and of everything they have achieved as a result.”
During the immersive week-long programme designed to enhance both self-supported learning and teamwork, students develop STEM leadership skills through immersive and interactive tasks including building, coding and testing rockets, simulated astronaut training, shuttle missions, and a low-gravity moonwalk. Students also use computational thinking and computer science to deepen their digital skills