Building Universal Spaces at AC2ES:
For many students, summer represents a time of sleeping in, hanging out with friends or participating in fun camps designed to entertain. School and learning is the farthest thing from most kids’ minds. But for many parents and children who equate academics with their passion, there is a dearth of summer programs that are both challenging and inspirational. This is where AC2ES camp steps in, providing opportunities to dabble in Aerospace, Calculus, Communications, Engineering, and Science. The camp is comprised of several week-long sessions, culminating in an international component that allows students to become part of the International Space Settlement Contest as they work to terraform Mars.
The debate over Mars missions and how to best achieve them is not new, but it is definitely a hot topic for those interested in space policy. How do we achieve such a settlement, how do we get there, and who will ultimately be involved in the communities of the future? We know that other countries have similar goals for space research, so ultimately these kinds of real-world dilemmas of ethics, philosophy, and law are created microcosmically in the form of the Settlement Contest. The contest is sponsored by NASA’s Ames Research Center, San Jose State University, and the National Space Society. While it is considered primarily to be a high school contest, provisions for younger students can be arranged.
For the past few years, the team at The Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, FL has grown larger, due, in large part, to worldwide contacts and, particularly, a group of especially talented and intelligent Chinese students who participate annually in the international portion of the camp. One of the components of this segment instructs teams to debate the various architectural pathways (Mars direct vs. Moon first). Students research the two most popular perspectives (along with other possibilities) and orally defend positions not only on the pathway, but also purpose, feasibility, and logistics of achieving such a mission.
Invariably, students see the value of working together not only as individual team members, but they also recognize the importance of working together as nations to achieve a common goal. The competition is fun and challenging, to be sure, but the biggest implication students may walk away with is that space, and therefore our future, is not a land to be conquered or colonized by the flag that “gets there” first. Instead, the colonies of the tomorrow must be international in design; tackling these problems in Earth’s classrooms and camps seems a good start.
For more information on the Space Settlement Contest, Click on the button below.