Bloomington-Normal youth this week embarked on an adventure at Normal Community West High School to build the International Space Station, with a few modifications.
Students ranging from 6th to 8th grade are participating in this year's ISS Underwater program.
Joanna Gonzalez, 11, from Normal was one of nine students and the only girl.
She said she doesn’t want to be an astronaut—instead opting for lawyer or therapist—but said the ISS Underwater program offered a new adventure she couldn’t refuse.
“If I haven’t done it before and I am excited about it, I would love to do it,” Gonzales said. “So this is just the opportunity of a lifetime for me.”
And as for being the only girl? Gonzalez said gender doesn’t matter, anyone can learn. It all comes down to teamwork.
Stacey Shrewsbury, the Challenger Learning Center’s associate director, said the program teaches these young astronauts more than just working in microgravity.
“I’m hoping they get a better understanding of neutral buoyancy, but I’m also hoping that they’ll get an understanding of teamwork, and how it really does take each of them working together, doing their part, in order to make the big, successful space station possible.”
Shewsbury said it’s not the real deal, but it’s close. NASA astronauts go through the same kind of underwater training to prepare for interacting in zero gravity.
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