Last Friday, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex became a hands-on science lab for about 150 top math, science, and engineering students from Palm Beach County’s Wellington High School, as they took a tour that included meeting astronaut J. McBride and participating in an engineering challenge and simulations. The field trip was designed to engage students taking challenging STEM classes and spark their desires for a future in the space program.

“Before I came, I was definitely interested in science and math, that’s why we’re all here because we actually are the top students of our school in science and math. But after we did come here, I have a new found appreciation for the actual course that makes me really want to look into pursuing it in the future,” said student Emily McClimans.

“Seeing Atlantis is so cool. I saw it last year and it’s just an image that’s just stuck with me throughout the rest of the year. It’s such an amazing thing to see that that was in space and that carried people to space and the International Space Station and brought them home safely. I think that’s the most amazing thing ever,” said Isabelle Longo, student.

“We think that the first man or woman who walks on Mars could be somewhere between 8 and 18 years old today. If you think about it, these kids are right in the middle of that group. If they want to think about it and they want to prepare for it, this is a good day to start thinking about it. The number one thing they can do is get that education,” said McBride.

The trip for top students in Wellington’s public high schools is underwritten by the Jacobs family of Wellington, whose company, Delaware North, operates the Visitor Complex for NASA. On Friday, Feb. 6, students from Palm Beach Central High School took the trip. This marks the third year that the Jacobs have sent top students from his Florida hometown to experience the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, bringing the total to nearly 1,000.

Kennedy Space Center is one of the few destinations in the world where the adventure of visiting is also an immersive education experience.  The field trip, designed with input from the Wellington educators, is one of several programs offered at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Others include Overnight Adventures and Camp Kennedy Space.

“Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs’s generosity to these students will expose them to an incredible opportunity to learn more about space. A trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings science, technology, engineering and mathematics to life for students by touring Kennedy Space Center, hearing from space experts, experiencing real flown spacecraft and engaging in interactive simulators and exhibits,” said Therrin Protze, Chief Operating Officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “This program shows the influence a visit to Kennedy Space Center can have on students preparing for their college majors and career choices.”

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