Astronomy and NASA Class Experiences Danger, Science and Beauty

November 18, 2009

On November 16, Assistant Professor of Physics Christopher Fuse took his Rollins College Conference students to Titusville to witness one of the last shuttle launches, Atlantis on STS-129. For many of the students, it was the first launch they had ever seen.

“It was exciting to see something like that—it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Elise Spearing '13.  “It was such an amazing accomplishment just getting that thing off the Earth, let alone what it’s doing in space. It was very cool to witness.”

NASA launched Atlantis to bring the first two ExPRESS Logistics Carriers to the International Space Station.

The class left Rollins at 8:30 a.m. and drove to Titusville to get a good spot right across the water from the launch pad. By noon, every parking spot in the lot was filled. By 1 p.m., the dock across the street was packed with people from all walks of life, young and old, some who had never seen a launch, and some who were there on the fateful day that Columbia took its final flight in 2003.

“I thought the launch was an epic experience that opened my eyes to the vast world of science,” said Matt Behnke '13. “I had a really great time and it was a great bonding experience for us all.”

The Rollins College Conference (RCC), required of all entering first-year students, is an innovative academic program that teams faculty with a small group of students to explore a topic of mutual interest through reading, writing and discussion. Over the course of the semester, the faculty member serves as the student's advisor and two upper-class students serve as peer mentors to assist the new students with coursework and adjusting to college life.  Launched in 1994, RCC is aimed at enhancing student retention by making students feel a part of the Rollins College community. 

-Mary Neville '13

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