Aalaa, Newt, and Sofia Head to Junior Astronaut Camp

We have THREE CAGIS participants at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Junior Astronaut Camp!  They participated in CAGIS Junior Astronauts events that ran at chapters across the country with three streams of activities (science and technology, fitness and nutrition, and teamwork and communication) as part of the CSA’s Junior Astronauts initiative.

Participants who successfully completed all three streams of activities qualified to apply to Junior Astronaut Camp.  The CSA then selected 52 youth from grades 6 to 9 to attend the week-long virtual camp.  Aalaa, Newt, and Sofia will have the amazing opportunity to operate a rover, learn about space careers, and work with scientists and astronauts to solve space problems.

Watch this space to follow Aalaa, Newt, and Sofia’s daily camp journeys!

Meet the Participants

Aalaa Rehman

Aalaa is a youth leader, writer, researcher, activist, and entrepreneur.  She applied for Junior Astronaut Camp after attending the CAGIS Kitchener-Waterloo Junior Astronauts event.  She believes that everyone should have the right to ask questions, which is why she launched her project OK2QUESTION, aimed at letting youth aged 6-16 further their knowledge in science, with a special branch for Muslim Girls (MGOK2QUESTION).  You can learn more about Aalaa’s initiatives on her website at www.aalaaconseil.ca.

Newt Klocokova

Newt is a CAGIS member who attended the CAGIS Oakville Junior Astronauts event in March 2020.  In September, he will enter Grade 11 at Assumption Catholic Secondary School.  His dream job is to be an astronaut or work with space exploration in some way.  He also enjoys rock climbing.

Sofia Mejicano

Sofia was born in Guatemala City and moved to Canada when she was one year old. She has always had a strong sense of curiosity and discovered her passion for STEM when she built her first robot in grade one. She participated in the CAGIS Ottawa Junior Astronauts event and is looking forward to participating in the CSA camp and learning from scientists and astronauts about space. Sofia also loves robotics and coding, and her hobbies include taekwondo, baking, math competitions, and trivia. Sofia will be entering grade 8 at St.Timothy’s Classical Academy this coming fall.

Daily Camp Journals

Day 1: Launch Day!

Today was the first day of the CSA’s Junior Astronaut Camp, and it was absolutely wonderful! All the different people we met and things we did started the week off with a bang. We were able to talk to industry professionals, try different activities, learn many new things, and we had a lot of fun! We played an escape room, we did some stretching, and we got to talk to some astronauts. The astronaut in the photo is Jeremy Hansen, who represents the CSA at NASA and works as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM). We had a great discussion and Q&A, and we found out just how environmentally focused the CSA is. I really enjoyed the first day, and I’m looking forward to more!” – Aalaa

“We learned about how being in space affects the human body and did a resistance band workout with some exercises that astronauts do in space.” – Newt

Day 2: Robots and Space Kitchen

Today was a very packed day. We started off by brainstorming how to make a greenhouse on the Moon so that astronauts would be able to get proper nutrients. Then, we were able to get to see the CSA properly– we got to see a life-sized model of the Canadarm (which is an amazing 17 meters long!), and we also got to go into the control room and see an astronaut perform an experiment with algae! Today was an incredibly informative day, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!” – Aalaa

“This morning, we got a talk from two specialists who worked in nutrition from space. They taught us about how they import food to space, how astronauts prepare their meals and what the future of space food is. We then separated into teams to design and plan our own greenhouses. We brainstormed which foods we would plant, how we would plant them and more!” – Sofia

Day 3: Earth Detectives

Junior Astronauts Day 3-2

“We learned about Earth observation and looked at different anomalies using Google Earth” – Newt

Today, we learned about satellites and how they are used in the world today. We then had a fun challenge where we had to make observations on 2 different incidents: a flood and gas leak using pictures taken by satellites. We then had to come up with solutions and make a list of what information we were missing to solve the problem.” – Sofia

Day 4: Driving on the Moon

“Today, we commanded a rover simulation over the moon! The simulation was compiled with the data of a moon rover trip last year. You might wonder what the application would be for this simulation, other than for our use– apparently, the staff, scientists and engineers over at the CSA are planning to feed that information to a rover that they are planning to send to the moon in 2024! We’re technically the first people to use it! Today was an incredibly hands-on day, and it was so amazing to control the rover with my team! I’m looking forward to the last day of the camp!” – Aalaa

“Today, we drove a rover on the moon using a simulator program where we drove the robot to different destinations where to analyze rocks, find a missing rover, and more!” – Sofia

Day 5: Final Day

As all good things must, our camp has come to an end. Today was jam-packed with information- we got to meet with many experts in diverse fields. So much work goes into space exploration. We even got to meet with Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and David Saint-Jacques and talk to them about what it’s like to be an astronaut. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful week, and I know more than ever I want to go into science!” – Aalaa

“We did a workout and completed some “missions” that were related to the exercises we did. We also learned how being in space affects an astronaut’s body and how they feel when they return to Earth. We did an exercise that showed us how the brain feels when an astronaut lands and how hard it is to coordinate your body after you come back from zero gravity. Then we tried to solve math problems in unusual positions that got progressively harder as the positions got more unusual to mimic being in space. We talked to multiple experts in the field of space exploration, all of whom were very interesting. We learned about black holes, astronomy, satellite planning, and talked to a mission manager, project engineer, labs manager, and many more. It was very informative and interesting to hear from a group of such different jobs that were all related to space, and also provided ideas for other careers in the space exploration field.” – Newt