Ad Astra - home of the plasma powered rocket engine
Ad Astra - home of the plasma powered rocket engine

Emu Park student given a full NASA experience

Emu Park’s first potential astronaut, Mariah Sleeman, received the opportunity of a lifetime when she was offered the chance to attend the California Association for STEM Education earlier this year.

While there, she took part in a Senior Space School International Study Program with The Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia camp at NASA in Houston, Texas.

Driven by her passion for science and space, Mariah chose to complete chemistry, mathematic methods and specialist mathematics in her senior years at school.

In need of funding to be able to take advantage of this offer, Mariah’s family approached the Emu Park Lions Club for assistance.

Mariah Sleeman (right) building and driving robots at Space University
Mariah Sleeman (right) building and driving robots at Space University

Together they fundraised throughout the year to raise the $10,000 needed for the trip.

Through these fundraising efforts, and donations from the Yeppoon Lions Club and St Ursula’s College Mariah’s dreams were realised.

The 14-day program was attended by a group of young women, all highly skilled in the areas of maths, science and technology.

Mariah reported on her ­incredible experience upon her return.

“Ever since I was a kid, I dreamt about going to a place such as NASA,” she said.

“Last year that dream became a reality for me.

“I went on this trip knowing no-one, sharing a common school with no-one on this camp, but by the end of it, I had made lifelong friends that are both like-minded, and into their STEM subjects just as much as I am.”

Mariah Sleeman with a Model of the ISS (International Space Station)
Mariah Sleeman with a Model of the ISS (International Space Station)

She said there was much learned on this trip including everything from teamwork skills, to how NASA was planning on getting more astronauts on the moon and even Mars.

“(I also learned) about the cryo and thermo technology that NASA uses in order to protect their astronauts from extreme conditions out in space and while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” Mariah said.

Mariah took part in robot building activities, coding, rocket building and launching, cryo and thermo capsule building, habitat design and building.

She even got the chance to go scuba-diving.

A highlight for the future Emu Park scientist was viewing the CanadaArm - a giant arm that astronauts attached to on space walks out on the International Space Station.

Another highlight was seeing the first plasma powered rocket engine aiming to get astronauts to Mars.

Fundraising Committee: Lion Melissa Staines, Nathan Sleeman, Mariah Sleeman, Fundraising Co-ordinator Lion Lynelle Burns, Lion Karen Hamilton, Lion Lyn Nicholls
Fundraising Committee: Lion Melissa Staines, Nathan Sleeman, Mariah Sleeman, Fundraising Co-ordinator Lion Lynelle Burns, Lion Karen Hamilton, Lion Lyn Nicholls

At the graduation ceremony, Mariah was one of 10 in her group (of about 46) that received an Outstanding Leadership Award.

She said the trip to NASA and America was an amazing experience and that she had brought home memories that she would never forget.