During the week of June 17, 2023, K12 Private Academy students, several parents, and four teachers met in Florida for an education-packed, fun-filled, four-day trip to the Florida Space Coast. Planned by the deputy executive director at K12 Private Academy, Susan Hollingsworth, and World Languages Department Chair Jennifer Lambert, the trip was K12 Private Academy’s first in-person event since the pandemic, and it was jam-packed with excitement. K12 Private Academy partnered with Real World Explorations Travel to make this experience a reality for these students who were eager to learn about career pathways and possibilities after high school in the aerospace, engineering, science, and entertainment industries.
After meeting up with the group in Daytona, Florida, the trip officially kicked off at Daytona International Speedway to participate in a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium. Students learned how mechanical and design engineering helped to build the world’s fastest racecars and a track that kept them on course. After, students headed to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to speak with deans and professors from both the ERAU College of Business and the College of Aviation about how the university prepares students for careers working in the aerospace, aviation, and space industries. They also visited with engineers in the ERAU Eagle Flight Research Center to hear about their current projects, including experimental flight testing and drone technology.
On day two, students spent the day at the Ponce Inlet Marine Science Center. Guides led the group on a nature walk and introduced them to the local ecosystem, where students had hands-on experience filtering water, identifying wildlife, and understanding the purpose of the vegetation. Later, students toured the Center’s rescue and rehabilitation facility to learn about their efforts to help populations of raptors and reptiles such as snakes and turtles.
Day three saw students blasting off to the Kennedy Space Center to receive educational briefings on NASA’s Artemis Program and Gateway Deep Space Launch Complex. Students also enjoyed lunch beneath a Saturn V Rocket and experienced an up-close view of the space shuttle Atlantis along with more than 60 space exhibits and simulators.
On day four, students ventured to The Digital Animation & Visual Effects (DAVE) School, located on the Universal Studios backlot, where they received a studio presentation and participated in an educational workshop on how animation and visual effects play a role in the production of movies, television, and video games. Industry professionals shared a variety of career opportunities as well as an overview of the job interview and placement process. Before departing, students had an opportunity for one last meal with their teachers and new friends at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Bringing students together from an international school, who had only met online, was an amazing experience. By the end of the week, one would think this group of students, ranging from grades 7-12, had been together for years in a face-to-face setting. This says a great deal about the educators they work with, the learning coaches they have at home, and the amazing young people they are.
To quote 8th grader Tristian Staley, “Thank you so much Dr. Hollingsworth for giving me the opportunity to experience this trip around Florida and Daytona Beach with the rest of the amazing people and kids that I met along the way. This experience was a once in a lifetime and I'm very grateful that I could experience this trip and get a better vision, a better idea, of what I want to do with my life and how far I want to be able to take my career. Thank you so much for being able to take time with us students and see which direction we want to take as young adults. I will forever be grateful, and I will forever remember this experience!”
As a career and college prep program, K12 Private Academy looks forward to continuing to offer these opportunities for our students so they can receive hands-on experience within secondary education and industry settings to complement all the wonderful activities we provide online.
Some pictures from our trip…