Area students recently completed programs at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan.

Area students recently completed programs at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan.

Logan Wilkinson, Independence, graduated from the Investigate Space: Mars Academy program. He is a fifth grader at Little Blue Elementary in the Raytown School District.

Mars Academy is a three-day residential camp for students entering fifth and sixth grades. Developed by Cosmosphere staff, the Mars Academy program introduces campers to space science, while also emphasizing teamwork and problem solving in a fact-paced learning environment.

As part of the program, Mars Academy campers learn the geology, climate and conditions that exist on Mars. In addition, campers launch air-powered rockets and guide a student-programmed robot around an obstacle course. The camp culminates in a simulated robotic mission to Mars. Each team creates a mission patch before their simulated journey.

Chris Weatherly, Blue Springs and Austin Woody, Independence, graduated from Level 2 of the Future Astronaut Training Program. Both are students at the Blue Springs Freshman Center.

The week-long astronaut camp is for students in eighth through 10th grades and emphasizes teamwork, leadership and problem solving. The camp builds on knowledge gained from FATP Level 1, also held at the Cosmosphere. Developed by Cosmosphere staff, FATP is a nationally-recognized camp that motivates campers to seek careers in aerospace-related industries.

FATP Level 2 incorporates aspects of astronaut training with advanced courses in space shuttle systems, space science and physiology and microgravity science. The camp capstone is a simulated space shuttle mission in the Cosmosphere’s Falcon III, the most realistic space shuttle simulator outside of NASA. During the simulation, they capture and repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Students in FATP Level 2 also work in teams to produce a short video to preserve the memory of another team’s mission, and undergo a full day of SCUBA training and underwater exercises.

Campers receive high and low ropes course training, including a 30-foot climbing wall and zipline and learn night sky observation techniques. They also visit the Cosmosphere’s Hall of Space Museum, which houses one of the largest space artifact collections in the world.

Jacob Reynolds, Independence, graduated from Level 4 of the Future Astronaut Training Program. He is a 10th grader at Fort Osage High School.

Before attending Level 4, campers must have completed the first three FATP levels. The knowledge gained from the prior camps helps prepare campers for the challenges faced during Level 4.

FATP Level 4 campers spend five days at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. They visit Space Florida where they work in teams to build a payload for a weather balloon. They launch and track the balloon, which can reach altitudes of more than 80,000 feet.

In addition, campers tour Kennedy Space Center and visit the Rocket Garden, Early Spaceflight Exploration Center and Florida Space Authority. In a private tour, campers see the launch pads at Cape Canaveral used for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spaceflights.

Other activities include a briefing on future spaceflight programs and a trip to the Astronaut Hall of Fame and time at Cocoa Beach.