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NASTAR is Destination for Students of STEM

Forty William Penn Middle School eighth grade students taught by Ms. Blackshire, Ms. Giacomelli, and Ms. Slota traveled to The National AeroSpace Training And Research (NASTAR) Center in Southampton on May 15, 2017. NASTAR is the premier commercial air and space training, research, and educational facility. It combines state-of-the-art flight simulation with physiology-based courseware to optimize human performance in extreme environments. The student tour was led by NASTAR’s Director of Education, Mr. Greg Kennedy, who was the 2017 recipient of the Pennsbury Business Partnership of the Year Award.

While touring the NASTAR facility, students were introduced to the world of aerospace training and equipment. Pilots and astronauts train at this facility using the ejection seat trainer, gyro lab, altitude chamber, and flight simulator. A unique opportunity for civilians is provided at this facility if they would like to experience the “Wickedly Realistic” and “Absolutely Fantastic” Virgin Galactic Sub-Orbital flight experience that goes beyond the edge of space and back. NASTAR also hosts teacher trainings and student summer camp programs.

The highlight of the tour for students was the opportunity to sit in the altitude chamber and learn how the chamber is used to train pilots and astronauts. Mr. Kennedy explained the danger of a condition called hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and provided examples of different symptoms that pilots display when hypoxia begins. Students were surprised to learn that when some people experience hypoxia they cannot see color, may feel slight tingling in their fingers, or may be unable to do simple math calculations, while other individuals will experience euphoria and laugh uncontrollably like a hyena. The students also enjoyed seeing the oxygen masks and trying on the flight helmets that are worn by pilots.

After touring the NASTAR division of the facility, students visited the Environmental Tectonics Corporation (ETC) fabrication warehouse where they saw the building and preparation of equipment like altitude chambers, gyro labs, and hyperbaric chambers. Mr. Kennedy shared with the students that the popular Mission Space attraction now at EPCOT in Walt Disney World was built in this facility. The warehouse also included an area for assembling military-grade sterilizers, a welding shop, a sheet metal shop, and an area where equipment is prepared to ship out to pharmaceutical companies and medical supply houses. Mr. Kennedy made students aware of the cross-section of career fields available in an aerospace technical environment like NASTAR. He indicated that the demand for STEM* careers in the future is predicted to grow at least two times as much as in other job markets because of the need for individuals specializing in fields like energy advancements, computer sciences, and computer systems. Mr. Kennedy encouraged students to pursue a career in the STEM field. “If you are interested, stay with it!"

*STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

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Pennsbury School District
134 Yardley Avenue, PO Box 338
Fallsington, PA 19058
Telephone: 215-428-4100
Mission Statement
Recognizing our proud traditions and diverse community,
the Pennsbury School District prepares all students to become creative,
ethical, and critical thinkers for lifelong success in a global society.
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