Space Camp hopes to inspire America's future astronauts

HUNTSVILLE, AL (KTRK) -- As we move into a more technology-based world, the United States needs more people studying and working in math and science.

Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama is doing its part to get America's youth interested in those fields.

The camp was founded 33 years ago to create a spark for space exploration in children ages 7 to 18.

"It's all about applications, so it's taking the tools and everything that you've learned in a formal learning environment and bringing it here. We're teaching you also those soft skills, those 21st century skills - problem solving, communication, team trusting," said the camp's operations director Sandra Kerby.

At the camp kids get a feel for what it's like to walk on the moon, where you're only one-sixth of your weight.

Video game simulations allow campers to experience what astronauts feel when they re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.

When Eyewitness News visited the camp, there were four Houston-area students in attendance, amongst kids from all over the world. Sophie Bonner is an 11th grader from Katy who wants to make science her career.

"I really want to be an environmental scientist. We have a lot of problems in this day and age and I want to be one of the people who can come and solve them," Bonner said.

It's no secret that the United States needs more people like her. Only 16 percent of all bachelor's degrees in America are in the natural sciences and engineering fields. By comparison, in China there are 44 percent.

While women make up half of the college educated workforce, they account for less than one-third of the science and engineering careers. Those jobs typically pay twice as much as the U.S. average.

That's why Space Camp continues to promote math and science to America's future workforce.

"It's a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. You get to do a lot of things that a lot of other kids wouldn't be able to do," said 18-year-old Houston native Ausif SanaUllah.

For more on Space Camp, visit their website.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.