Virginia Team has a Blast at Space Camp

Some things are educational. Other things are fun. But if you ask these middle school students from Northern Virginia, they could tell you that when you combine the two, it’s the best of both worlds.

The Future City team from The Edlin School in Reston, Virginia won first prize at the 2018 Future City Finals in Washington, D.C. in February. They attended US Space Camp this summer as part of their grand prize package.

Nikhita Kuntipuram, Nikhil Kuntipuram, Spencer Zheng, Raghav Sriram, Vinay Ayala, and Lucas Ribeiro, were thrilled to take home first prize for their city, Halona, which hypothesized what Richmond, Virginia would be like 100 years from today.  The team spent months perfecting their Future City project. Sometimes things got difficult, but they learned a lot about engineering, design, and teamwork, and had a blast working together. In the end, they were proud of their city design which included an autonomous electric bus system and smart homes, fitted with sensors to monitor the health of residents.

The theme of learning while having fun continued when the team traveled together to Alabama for Space Camp. The middle schoolers’ wits, stamina, and endurance were put to the test and honed on various missions and simulators. Nikhil remarked, “Space Camp made me realize how much work people put in, to make people go to space. It takes a lot of time and effort to make the mission successful.”

After his time as a cadet, Vinay said, “I love how Space Camp includes many engineering principles in their curriculum. It is really fun because it incorporates learning with activities - it’s a great experience.” 

The team’s ingenuity was not limited to official camp activities. They admitted that their need for adventure and speed sometimes went beyond the gravity chair and the multi-axis trainer simulator. One night, in the dorms, they held a “suitcase race” where some of their classmates rode around in their four wheeled suitcases while others set up obstacles for them to maneuver around.

From listening to Skylab astronauts, to working together better through bonding with one another, the students from The Edlin School Future City team had an unforgettable learning experience and a one-of-a-kind adventure. Thanks to the support of Bentley Systems, the team was able to attend Space Camp and have this thrilling experience. Thinking about the trip, Lucas said, “Space Camp reinforced my passion for engineering and science by showing me even more what I could do with the engineering and science knowledge I have already acquired.”


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