Two Boulder Valley high school students spent a week at what's unofficially known as "space camp," participating in simulations and leadership activities along with students from 26 U.S. states and 30 countries.
Broomfield High School's Ryan Corda and Fairview High School's Cian Kinderman were among 227 students who attended the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy earlier this month at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama. The international program is designed to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Cian, a senior at Fairview. "The focus was really leadership and communication with a lot of team activities and challenges."
Students take part in interactive challenges such as designing, building and testing their own rockets; participating in simulated astronaut training, shuttle missions and a moon walk; and conducting DNA extraction experiments on fruit. They also meet with scientists, engineers and former astronauts.
Cian said the best part of the week was a fighter pilot simulation.
"I've never done anything like that," he said. "It was very realistic. It was terrifying but fun. There was so much multitasking going on. I crashed my plane four times. I probably should not be a pilot."
He said another highlight was getting to know the international students. Before he left, he said, he was worried that the other students would prove to be introverted "nerds." Instead, he said, he found students who were smart and outgoing.
"I learned how to communicate with people from around the world," he said. "It's a lot easier than I thought it would be."
He's still deciding where to attend college and isn't planning to go into aerospace. Instead, he wants to study neuroscience.
"The brain is just so complex," he said. "I would like to learn as much as I can about it."
For more information about the program, visit http://leadership.honeywell.com.