SCHOOLS: ROCK BRIDGE HIGH
By KATIE MORITZ
Tyler Griggs went away to learn about rockets, medicine and math. He came back with international friendships.
The Rock Bridge High School junior was one of 238 high school students from 26 U.S. states and 27 countries chosen by Honeywell, a company that produces consumer products and aerospace systems, for a weeklong science program at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
“There were people from (a lot of) different countries; all of the accents and the cultures combined in that area,” Griggs said. “Everyone loved everyone, there was no drama. Like, you know, high school drama.”
The program, called Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy, teaches leadership skills and offers hands-on experience for students pursuing careers in science, engineering and mathematics. Students were chosen by Honeywell based on academic achievement and community involvement. Griggs participated in the program from Feb. 26 to March 4.
During their week at HCLA, students meet astronauts, scientists and engineers as well as log as many as 45 hours of field training, laboratory and classroom time.
“We did a lot of simulations: flight simulations, mission simulations,” Griggs said. “And space shots, which threw you up 145 feet in the air and dropped you.”
Griggs said that when he was younger, he wanted to become an astronaut. But now he plans to attend an East Coast university and go into medicine. He said he enjoyed doing a medical experiment at HCLA in which he got to splice kiwi DNA.
“There was a little bit of medicine, a lot about rocketry, some stuff about math and engineering,” he said.
Besides pulling friendly pranks with new buddies, Griggs said the best experience he had at HCLA was meeting so many great people. He exchanged e-mail addresses with Chinese students he met at the program and has been in contact with them already.
“I just created a Facebook — I never had one before — so I can keep in touch with the people I met,” Griggs said. “It was an incredible experience and something I’ll never forget.”