Trip Report: Miss Bushman's Class Has A NASA Rocket Adventure in New Mexico


Miss Bushman wrote:

My heart is full of appreciation to all the people who helped make the trip to New Mexico possible. It amazed me at how gracious all of you were. I had e-mails that helped me find a cheaper flight in addition to those that send money. I want to say thank you, thank you for making a difference in my life and my students' lives. The trip would have never happened without your help. My students grew a great deal through the trip and working through the scientific process. It is an amazing experience to watch my students on the trip. I saw a lot of growth and they learned a lot. Six of the students had never been on a plane. My students wrote reflections about the trip and what they learned. Sorry it took a little while to get this written up. My students were involved in track and we put together a presentation for our community that took place May 8. I'm also teaching and working on my master's degree so it took me longer than I wanted. But be assured, all of us appreciate the help and it made a difference in our lives. While I was on the trip, the Daughters of the American Revolution honored me by giving me the first Founders Medal of Education ever to be given in Utah. Today, I also got an e-mail telling me that I had been selected as one of three chapter Air Force Association Teachers of the Year. I feel very humble at these two awards. I would never have been able to do the things that I have done without the support of people like you. Thanks for making a difference.

It was incredible flying out in matching NASA Ames shirts. We had several people comment on our shirts and ask what we were doing. It provided us with the opportunity to talk about being a NASA Explorer school and our experiment.

On the way home we stopped at a rest stop and a woman who lived in New Mexico learned about us attending the New Mexico launch. She said, "I hope your students realize the opportunity they just had. They told those of us that lived in New Mexico to stay at home because we would not be allowed to see the launch. That was a truly a once in a lifetime experience. They were just part of history in making it an official Spaceport and to think that they had an experiment on that rocket." This made all of us reflect and appreciate the experience even more.

Anne Parsons the NASA/MESA Club president wrote:

Wendover High School's trip to Hatch, New Mexico was fantastic! When we arrived there we got off in Albuquerque airport and got a rental car. From there we drove to Hatch High School which is about 2.5 hours away from Albuquerque.

The trip was an excellent opportunity to learn and be a part of history. We were able to watch our experiment fly up into space with Astronaut Cooper and James Doohan's ashes. I was so happy to be apart of this unique experience.

This successful launch guaranteed that UP Aerospace could be their own and separate facility from NASA. To have our experiment be a part of such an amazing moment in time is beyond words. This experience has definitely increased our confidence.

Another great part of the trip was meeting with the cosmonaut Jean dele Loup. He was very interesting and had many stories to share with us. He explained to us desire be a cosmonaut and what it takes to be one. I was impressed with how nice he was. He was so eager to answer questions and treated us like he really cared.

We also built our own rockets. We watched them get launched and I was surprised at how far they went. I find rockets amazing and I feel that this helped me to have an even greater appreciation of rockets.

On the way to the rocket museum, we went to the White Sands National Monument. It was such a special surprise because our teacher, Mr. Northrup, had gotten wrong directions that ended up near the park. We decided to go to the park and jump off the sand hills. We loved this part because it was so fun! We loved rolling down the sand. Although we did find out that sand is really hard! I got several bruises from the experience.

The NASA Explorer School (NES) program gives American children so many different opportunities and reasons to take pride in education that I can't imagine schools without them.

I would like to thank all of our sponsors.

George Middleton was unable to travel to New Mexico but he helped come up with the idea of the experiment. He wrote:

Miss Bushman told us to come up with ideas for an experiment to be sent up in a rocket, so I came up with finding out how being bunched into space would affect magnets. The NASA club accepted the idea and we got cow magnets and a magnetic construction set. We had a total of six magnets of each type, 3 to be launched and 3 to stay here as a control. We had a ream of paper and we placed a magnet on top of the paper and moved a magnet on top of the paper and moved a magnet under the paper. If it didn't move, we took paper off until it did. If the paper clip did move, we added paper until it did not move. We counted the pieces of paper and tested them a total of three times and averaged them.

This is the second time that I have worked on an experiment that has been accepted by NASA. The first time dealt with thermometers. I went with three other students to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to assemble the experiment and to tour the facility. My favorite part was learning about the AeroSonde, a remote control plane used by NASA.

Being in a NASA Explorer School has provided many opportunities that I may never be able to do again.

Jamahl Middleton an eighth grader who helped with the experiment but was unable to attend the trip to New Mexico wrote.

Last year, four students at WHS got to go to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The experiment we sent up was testing digital thermometers that were flexible and nonflexible to see if they would change the accuracy of the reading. We also sent up many types of plant seeds to see if they would grow differently after being in space. While we were there we got to control a balloon launch and learn many interesting things about what NASA uses to launch, test, and build rockets or balloons. When the experiment was ready and we had toured the facility, we went to visit Washington DC and saw many of the memorials including the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and World War II Memorial. It was very exciting to be able to go. Then just a little while ago this year we sent up another experiment, about magnets. Before we sent it up we tested cow magnets and construction toy set magnets, six of each. We tested them by putting a paperclip on top of a ream of paper and moving a magnet underneath them, if it didn't move we removed paper until it did and counted the pages it went through until it stopped. We did three trials of each and averaged it out. When we packed it we kept three of each as control magnets and then it was ready. Then on April 28 at about 9 o'clock the rocket launched and became the first successful launch for UP Aerospace making it the only successful rocket launch into space outside of NASA. Now we just have to wait and test it again when we get it back. Being a NASA Explorer School has also made it possible for many other things. We have been able to meet and talk with real astronauts.

An eighth grader, Rafael Mendoza wrote:

The UP Aerospace trip was tough but fun. Friday and Saturday we had to wake up really early. I didn't feel so great on the plane rides. I'm afraid of heights. But I survived. The trip was fun except for the mornings.

Thursday we stayed at a hotel in Salt Lake for the night. Most of us went into the pool. The other two boys stayed in the room. Friday we awoke at 3:30 AM for the flight to Phoenix and then on to Albuquerque. Once we got to Albuquerque, we still had a three hour drive to find out that we passed where we were supposed to go. Once we got to the Hatch High School, we started to make our model rockets. Once we finished we went back to Las Cruses and our rooms for the night.

Although we boys stayed up for a while, the next morning we had to be on the road again at 4:00 AM for Hatch High School. There we loaded into a school bus to go to the launch. We were the last of nine buses. Seven of the buses were charter in front of us stirred up a lot of dust on the unpaved road. It got very dusty in the school bus. It took an hour to get to the launch site and then we had about a two hour wait for the launch. We were three miles away from the rocket and we couldn't see it with our naked eye. So when the launch happened it took me a second to find the rocket. I could see the white smoke clearly. The rocket launch was successful and it landed right where they wanted it to land. After the launch, we went back to the school to launch our model rockets. We had to wait awhile as a rain storm hit. They were kind enough to allow us to launch once the rain became a sprinkle. I took pictures. I got several good pictures of the rockets flying or launching. Ashton's top part of his rocket went flying.

After the launches, we went back in to talk about it. Shortly after the launches, we were on the road again going towards the White Sands Rocket Museum. Well we missed the turn off and ended up at the White Sands Monument visitor center. We did not have time to drive back and get to the museum while it was open so we decided to visit White Sands Monument. At the sand dunes, we had plenty of fun. Munoz jumped one of the big sand hills. So did I, Korbin, and Mr. Northrup. The girls hardly jumped at all. About an hour later, the police came to tell us you have to go farther down to play on the dunes. In our excitement of seeing the sand, we had missed the sign. We decided that it was time to go and started back to Las Cruces. On the way back, we found the correct turn off and went and walked around the outside rocket museum.

We got back to the hotel and got cleaned up to go hear the owner of UP Aerospace speak. He talked to us about how he started his business and asked us what we would do if it was our business. I made two comments.

Sunday we woke up late so all we could do was have breakfast and get ready to leave. Once we got to Albuquerque, we had a small wait for our flight. We were the last to board the plane. To make a long story short, we had plenty of fun and we give thanks for giving us a chance to have this experience.

The thing I learned most was that you do not have to come from a big place to be able to do things. I can do anything even though I come from a small town.

Korbin Murphy wrote:

When I went to New Mexico I learned a lot. I learned how fast rockets go and how many g forces it takes to get them in the sky. The rocket we saw go up if there was a human in that rocket it would have killed them because of how fast it went.

The plane ride was fun. It was a cool experience. The best part is take off. We stayed at a Super 8 in Las Cruses. We had to drive about 45 minutes to Hatch, the chili capital of the nation. It was a small town. We built little rockets at their high school.

The next day we had to wake up at 3:30 AM for the second time. We went to the school in Hatch and got on a school bus. We drove for over an hour on a dirt road. It was cool though because I slept the whole time. There were a lot of busses (9), it was like a convoy.

We got to the launch site and waited for about two hours. During these two hours we played around, we ate some red chili burritos. I think they were the best burritos I have ever eaten. We also talked with a former cosmonaut. It was cool seeing the rocket go up so fast. Then we went back to the school and launched our rockets. These were pretty cool too.

Then we were going to go to a rocket museum but we could not find it but we took a seventy mile course away from it. But that is where we found the White Sands Park. I'm glad we went there instead of the museum because everyone needed some fun time. We were having fun jumping off the steep sand hill. If you were a good jumper you could jump halfway down the hill. It was a lot of fun.

On the way back we found the museum but it was closed. But we could go look at some of the missiles and bombers they had on display outside. When we would take pictures, we had to have the mountains in the background.

This trip was a fun trip. I hope I can do this again.

Maria Cortez wrote:

In the trip to New Mexico, I had a lot of fun! I enjoyed traveling to the state and spending so much time there. I am very fortunate to have been a witness to an important event of history as the launching of the rocket. We also had the opportunity to visit a missile museum and I found that very interesting. I also like the fact that my companions and I had the chance to go and enjoy our time at White Sands.

At the missile museum, I had never seen planes and bombs up that close. I got to see inside helicopters which I thought was a GRRRREAT!

Back to White Sands, I'd never seen white hills. Living near the Salt Flats is quite different because there are no hills over here just plain white desert.

As for the rocket launch, we had to go into a New Mexico Desert which took us about two hours or less for us to get there to the site. There was also a cosmonaut, and of course news reporters because there were the ashes of an important figure.

I am really happy that I took many pictures and that that memory will stay with me forever. Hopefully, students of the future will have this opportunity and enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks to all of you that helped make the trip possible. I was amazed at how many people cared about us even though they had never meet us. Thanks for making a difference in our lives.

Madison Higley wrote:

The trip to New Mexico was awesome. We were able to attend the rocket launch heading into space. This rocket contained our experiment of magnets.

The rocket going into space successfully made the spaceport official.

We also had the opportunity to make our own little rockets and launch them.

Our experiment was with magnets and we decided to test the strength before and after it went into space.

We also had the opportunity to visit the White Sands. We had fun walking around the sand dunes.

For me it was the first time that I ever got on and rode an airplane. It was awesome.

Julia Oppenhein wrote:

During the trip to New Mexico, we had a lot of fun building model rockets and then getting to launch them off. T he most exciting part of the trip was when we went to the White Sands National Park. We were having so much fun jumping off, rolling down the hills. Some of the students got some pretty good air.

While we were on the bus trip to go to the launch site the bus trip was very bumpy and I couldn't bare it so I had to rest my eyes. But when we got there it was worth the bumpy bus ride to see the rocket be launched. I have never seen a rocket be launched before so I thought it was pretty cool.

When the day came for us to come home I was sad because I didn't want the fun to end.

Having a teacher like Miss Bushman in our school is really cool because she is a hard working person. She would do anything for the students and she also did all she could to make this trip happen. So it's pretty cool having such a wonderful teacher like her.

Being a NASA Explorer school is very awesome because it gives the students some big opportunities to see and learn different things.

Going on another NASA Trip would be something I would love to do again even if it's not to New Mexico just as long as it's somewhere.

Ashton Kennedy wrote:

About a month ago, Miss Bushman asked me if I wanted to go on a trip to New Mexico to watch a rocket launch. Expecting Sean Carter and George Middleton to go as well, I said that I would love to go. As time progressed I learnt why I was going to go and see a rocket take off. An experiment the NASA club was working on was to be sent up in that rocket as a part of the experiment process. When I learnt this I decided to help out so it didn't look like I was going for free while the club worked their butts off. As days went by, Sean said that he wouldn't be going on this trip due to an award banquet he had to attend. For some odd reason George backed out too. This sort of took the wind out of my sails but Miss Bushman pulled me out of class one day and asked me if their was anyone else that might want to go with me. I thought about it and thought of Korbin Murphy, Manuel Munoz, Josh Gonzales, and a couple of others which I forgot. Out of the ones mentioned, Korbin and Munoz were the ones who decided to come along with me. This motivated me again and I wanted to go. As weeks went by I was told that a few more people were joining our expedition, Madison Higley, Annie Parsons, Maria Cortez, Julia Oppenhein, Manuel Munoz, Korbin Murphy, and Rafael Mendoza (a.k.a. Raul) (a.k.a. Rafiki).

Within our group of eight, there certainly were trials to overcome. Before the trip we were told to raise about 300+ dollars for our plane tickets, rooms, and food. I was really impressed at what some of the students did to raise the money; Julia, for example, raised money by doing a raffle and selling tickets. Although I do admire her and other students for what they did, I for one didn't really have to work all that much. *It pays to have a big family*

Miss Bushman, to help raise money, went around to various businesses telling them what we were all about and asking them if they would like to donate any money for the cause. Within a weeks time she raised about 5000+ dollars due to MESA, Utah Air Force Association, and readers of This was enough money to pay for all of the students' airfare, rooms, and even meals! The only money any of us needed was money for souvenirs.

Days before the trip we were all interviewed and asked about our opinions on the experiment. We were interviewed not only once but twice, by Deseret News and by The Tooele Transcript. Everyone in the NASA club and who were going on the trip attended the interviews.

The trip began Thursday, April 26th right after school for some students. For others the trip began at 18:00 hours that same day. I went with Mr. Northrup because I needed to pack still. After we left we went to the Super 8 motel in Salt Lake City. We spent the night there and woke up the next day. We got all our luggage and left Miss Bushman's car and the school van at the motel. We then took a shuttle van to the airport. Now here comes the interesting part.

After we got off of the shuttle, we went into the airport and waited. We got to the airport around 4:30 a.m. and the ticket booths didn't open until 5:00 a.m. Inside, we stood at an airline company until a lady finally came out. It turned out that we were standing in the wrong line the whole time.

We had to figure out what airline we actually were on and go to that line. Since all the airline ticket booths were already open, we went to our correct line. The correct line was almost a quarter mile long. Infact, Mr. Northrup thought he found the end of the line but when he entered it he was yelled at by an old lady with a walker. Finally we decided that the line was way too long and went outside to the express ticket booths. About 45 minutes later, we finally got on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 heading south towards Phoenix, Arizona.

The plane landed in Phoenix but this wasn't our stop. We had to get off and go to another Boeing 737 heading for Albuquerque, New Mexico; this was where we wanted to go.

Another hours later, we arrived in Albuquerque. There we rented two awesome new Dodge Durangos. We drove to Las Cruces, New Mexico where we stayed at another Super 8 motel. Once we checked into the motel, we drove down to Hatch High School (a.k.a. Headquarters"). There we had a meeting about the next days rocket launch and built our own little model rockets. After the meeting, we went back to the motel and slept.

We woke up early and drove back to Headquarters and loaded up on a grand total of 9 busses. There was probably close to 200 people on all of the busses. The busses took all of us to the launch site. After about 2 hours the clock started counting down, 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...Blast Off! The rocket went up in a twirl of smoke and soon was out of site. After it came back down 20 minutes later, a few speakers...well...spoke to us and explained on how this was the first successful launch, and that the spaceport is now an official spaceport. These people were the first ones besides NASA to successfully send a rocket into space.

Following the launch we drove back to Headquarters on our convoy of busses. We talked some more about the launch and were just about to go and fly our smaller model rockets when...uh-oh disaster struck. Weather conditions turned to crap. We waited it out and found that the weather was passing right over us really fast, so we got to fly our rockets anyway.

After our own personal launches, we were supposed to drive to the White Sands Missile Base Museum and look at all the cool stuff there. Unfortunately, Mr. Northrup was driving and we passed it. But everything was ok because he led us to White Sands National Park. That place was freaking awesome. It was a desert of course but the sands were all totally white. There we all played on the sand dunes including Mr. Northrup who had a lot of fun. After a long time of playing though it was time to go. Nobody wanted to leave but there were other places to go to. On the way back, however, we saw the missile base and had to drive to it. Inside was amazing, they had huge missiles there including the Patriot and Nike Hercules. A model of the A-bomb was displayed, Fat-Boy, to be precise. The base had a weird rule; they said that you could only take pictures of the missiles if the mountains were in the background.

Fun was over at the missile base and it was time to go to the room. 20 minutes after getting to the room we were off to New Mexico University to hear a really smart guy speak really smart things. After this we went back to the room and slept.

The next morning we woke up early again and packed up to go home. We drove back to Albuquerque and we had to give up our cool cars which I didn't like. We got back onto another Boeing 737 and flew all the way to Salt Lake City where we found our van and car. Then we drove to Wendover and arrived around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, 2007. That was the end of an extremely fun trip that I would like to go on again someday.

Manual Munoz wrote:

I was invited to go on the trip to New Mexico on April 27 for the rocket launch. I am going to tell you what I learned day by day.

April 26 was when we spent the night at the Super 8 Motel in Salt Lake City. This hotel was close to the airport. What I enjoyed about staying there is that we went swimming in their pool. And we had to go to sleep early because we had to wake up around 3:30 AM so we could catch the plane on time.

April 27- we woke up and headed to the airport but it turns out we went early. We waited a couple of minutes until the employee came. However, we were in the wrong airline area and wasted all that time for nothing. So we went to the curbside check in so we could save some time. When we got our tickets, there were two tickets for me and none for Maria. So Miss Bushman had to go resolve the problem. We were concerned that they were going to miss the flight even though we had gotten to the airport almost two hours early. Once we got the entire luggage out of the way we went to our terminal and waited for the plane to come. As soon as the airplane came we got on board and headed down to Phoenix, Arizona. Then we had to wait to get another plane there that would take use to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was fun watching the girls on the escalators walking backwards to make the ride go longer. When we got to Albuquerque, we got our luggage and went to get a shuttle. We took the shuttle down to car rental place and we got our vehicles and started driving three hours down to Las Cruces, which was the boring part of the trip. After that boring trip, we reached our hotel. They gave us our keys and we relaxed for a couple of minutes. After those relaxing minutes, we got into the cars to drive for a drive to Hatch, the Chili Capital of the world. The location of the school was at first puzzling but when we found it we went inside. We were greeted by numerous people and the only person I remembered was Trina from last years trip. We took a seat and the meeting started. We built model rockets and ate pizza. I was the first one to finish the model rockets because I was a member of the rocket club.

My favorite part of the trip was when we went to White Sands National Park. I was amazed by the white snow and I started jumping on the sand. The sand was so soft it absorbed my jumps and was very slippery for some reason. I also like when we went to the New Mexico University for the lecture by the head of UP Aerospace. He told us how he started his company and got suggestions of how to make the business better from us students. The Physics instructor told us that he had some papers that we could fill out if we were interested in becoming an engineer. I was particularly interested in those papers because I hope to become an engineer one day. We also got to see a rocket launch by the desert which was hotter than ever. I was stuck with the camera so I had to take pictures of the rocket when it was taking off. When the rocket took off, I just started taking picture after picture; surprisingly I got a couple of good pictures of the rocket.

I just want to thank you for giving us money. Without you this trip wouldn't be possible. I think we will do a fine job telling people about our experiences at the NASA Family night in our school. We just hope we inspire students to stay in school and become something in life. I am going to personally tell people to join the NASA Club so they can one day go on a trip like I did and see how fun it is to go on this adventures that you may only see one for the rest of your life.

Thank you so much for what you have done. I hope you enjoy reading my story that I just typed. I hope that students will become more interested in these kinds of trips.

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