Article written and photographed by Robert Gale
It is one step for St. Petersburg College; one giant leap for the future of education. On February 17, 2017, the ethics and education departments of SPC took a trip to Kennedy Space Center to explore the world of space exploration. The head director in charge of the trip was Dr. Adeniji Odutola, Academic Chair for Applied Ethics and Professor Barbara Grano, professor for applies ethics. “St. Petersburg College started these programs in 2004 with the Kennedy Space Center as part of an effort to expose students to stem their opportunities. We take our students twice a year, spring and fall. This is one of the opportunities that students found to be valuable in terms of professional developmental for their goals for the future,” said Dr. Odutola.
The buses left the SPC Clearwater Campus at 6am and arrived at 8:30am to the Center for Space education. The group was greeted by two Kennedy Space Center teachers who told the class about the purpose of educating the youth of the world the importance of space exploration. The class constructed and interacted with two projects regarding the creation of rocket design and engine proportion strength. After the group’s creations, they tested their paper rockets on the grassy launch pad; some made it very far and high into the air, while others did not even make it off of the launch pad. Then the group tested their engine proportion strength and no group’s project broke. After some further words from the teachers, the class was on its own to explore the complex.
While at the Kennedy Space Center, students were free to choose what they wanted to see. The three main attractions were Heroes and Legends, a 3-D experience following the footsteps of famous astronauts like John Glenn and Neal Armstrong, the IMAX theatre, a 3-D footage called “A Beautiful Planet” that captures the world in the prospective of the astronauts in the International Space Station, and Space Shuttle Atlantis, which houses the real space shuttle and also contains a motion simulator ride where guests can experience the launch of the shuttle taking off of the launch pad.
Alongside the three main attractions, there were plenty of other things to see and do while at Kennedy Space Center. There were places to eat, places to shop, side attractions where guests could educate themselves about future manned expeditions to Mars, and the Rocket Garden where people could see actual rockets from early space exploration. Professor Grano expressed her enthusiasm after the trip as, “It was a great opportunity to meet students face to face whom might be taking online courses. It is nice to get to know them better. It is a chance for students to realize there are many ethical dilemmas associated with space. For example, the space station is cooperative by sixteen countries, which shows the ethical way of international involvement.” The buses landed safely back to mission control at the Clearwater campus at 7:00pm. Overall, the class had an amazing experience that launched the creativity of the minds and hearts of future leaders.