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Ann Parker Webb soars at space camp
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Ann Parker Webb soars at space camp

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HARTSVILLE – With all of the excitement surrounding recent private space flights, one Hartsville youth has dreams of her own about going into space or at least working with a space program at either NASA or a private company.

Ann Parker Webb, the 11-year-old daughter of Jennifer and John Webb of Hartsville, attended Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, this summer. It is her second summer as a space camper.

The weeklong educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Students are given hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and problem solving.

This program is specifically designed for trainees who have a passion for space exploration, stated a camp release.

Ann Parker spent the week training with a team that flew a simulated space mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon or Mars. The crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk. Ann Parker and crew returned to earth in time to graduate with honors.

Ann Parker finished the fourth grade at Carolina Elementary School this year. She will attend Trinity Collegiate School this fall.

“I became interested in space in the second grade,” she said. “A friend read books about space and told me about them.”

Ann Parker said her friend came for a sleepover one night, and they read about the space camp and decided then they wanted to go when they became of age.

At camp, Ann Parker said she learned how to be a team player and how to work together if something goes wrong. She said you have to help others and be a leader, not a follower.

“I learned to ask others if I don’t know the answer,” Ann Parker said. “Being an astronaut is a team effort.”

Ann Parker said everything they did was very realistic.

“Last year I got to be an astronaut, and we got into something like a capsule,” she said.

“This year two people got to do a spacewalk,” Ann Parker said. “It felt like I was working at NASA.”

Ann Parker said she was tasked with keeping the mission on track if something malfunctioned. She said they had to think with their brain.

“I liked the simulations,” she said. “We got to ask questions about different situations.”

Space Camp uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects, according to a release. Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA.

Ann Parker said her goal is to go to a good college that will help her get in the space program.

Although she is still young, Ann Parker is looking toward the future and a space-related job.

“My dream is to be an astronaut,” Ann Parker said.

She said there are a lot of jobs to choose from and not only with NASA but with private space companies.

“It is very fascinating,” she said. “It never ends. You can keep figuring out things about the universe. There is no limit to what you can learn. It is very intriguing.”

Ann Parker said she likes to study about science, but math is her favorite subject in school.

Meeting lots of new friends at camp is one of the best things about camp, Ann Parker said. She said there were people from all over the country, from Alaska and California, but she was the only one from Hartsville.

She said working with teammates is 10 times better than working alone.

There are team and individual badges to be earned. Ann Parker earned the Commander’s Cup (based on professionalism and how well you complete your mission) and Outstanding Team Award (based on how your team works together).

Ann Parker said when you finish fourth grade you get to move up from Space Camp to Space Academy and that the older campers get to stay two weeks.

For two years you learn the same thing, and the next two years the same thing, she said.

At graduation at the end of the week, Ann Parker received her wing and her certificate of completion.

“It gave me a lot of confidence,” she said.

One of Ann Parker’s favorite things to do at camp was the visit the museum. She also liked that they got to walk everywhere.

“I do hope to go until my parents tell me no,” she said.

The experience was definitely worth it even though it is expensive, she said.

Her mother said that scholarships are available, and she hopes other Hartsville children will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

“Eleven astronauts went to space camp,” Ann Parker said.

According to information released by the camp, one million trainees have graduated from a Space Camp program since its inception in 1982, including European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Dr. Kate Rubins, Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Christina Koch, who set the record for the longest duration space flight by a female. Children and teachers from all 50 states and almost 150 international locations have attended a Space Camp program.

Another goal of Ann Parker’s is to attend GSSM in high school. She also attended Robotics camp at the Governor’s School for Science and Math this year.

Ann Parker also enjoys crocheting, playing the piano, ballet and tennis.

“I used to play with rubber bands and make bracelets out of them. It was similar to crocheting, and I taught myself.”

Ann Parker has one sister, Caroline. She said her sister isn’t into space camp. She likes to play tennis.

The camp is also home of Space Camp, Space Camp Robotics, Aviation Challenge and U.S. Cyber Camp. The Rocket Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Official Visitor Center.

Interested in training like an astronaut? Visit spacecamp.com.

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