Space Camp 2022
Deep Space for Everyone: This year, we decided to put a new spin on our vision with our first-ever Space Camp for kids. Our three-day trip throughout the universe aimed to deepen the knowledge of these young space enthusiasts through fun experiments and exciting excursions.
Our first trip led us to the University of Vienna’s Institute for Astrophysics, where we enjoyed a show in the faculty’s mobile planetarium. After exploring the solar system and beyond with the planetarium’s stunning visuals, we looked at the Institute’s Large Refractor telescope. Our guide explained the story and mechanisms behind Austria’s largest lens telescope. Keeping with the theme of astronomical observations, the return to our home base at the Kuffner observatory led us to their homonymous Large Refractor. Under the instructions of the observatory’s manager, the kids performed observations with the telescope. First built in the late 19th century, the Refractor and its lens were overhauled for use in guided tours. Equipped with the correct lens, we looked directly at our Sun, showing off the star’s darker sunspots.
The next day, our excursion took us to the international space company Beyond Gravity, where we got an insight into Austrian contributions to various satellites and space probes. With only three ropes and some mathematical thinking, we learned how GPS helps us find out where on Earth we are. Back at the Kuffner observatory, experiments with dry ice led to homemade ice cream for our young scientists. Of course, visiting a space camp must include at least one launch: After designing some creative bottle rockets, our participants watched as their rockets took to the sky.
On our final day, the kids became the teacher as they explained the exoplanets they had created: Some gaseous, some rocky, harboring life or covered in deadly lava pools, each participant made great efforts to invent new worlds. Sticking to planets in our solar system, we spent the last afternoon taking a closer look at the Tumbleweed Mars rover, with our “Pink Lady” V3 prototype making an appearance. It then served as inspiration in our final competition, where groups of three built their own wind-driven Mars rovers. Putting them to the leaf-blower test proved that these kids are ready to be the next Space Generation.
Thanks to all our participants for being so curious and involved! We hope to see you again – perhaps one day as part of our team!
We are grateful to the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Austria in Space, and AUSTROSPACE for supporting and enabling this exciting new endeavor of ours. Thank you to the Institute for Astrophysics, Beyond Gravity, and the Kuffner observatory for having us and making this experience so memorable!