Week 1 SQP (June 9th - June 15th)

Written By: Alana Bartolini, Stephanie Gowell, and Mark James

Sunday, June 9th:
The 2013 NASA Ames Academy for Space Exploration officially kicked off with annual trips to the SFO and SJC airports. Mark and Stephanie picked up Emily “All-these-bags-are-for-Australia- I-swear” Briere and Karl “Michigan Man” Gendler from San Jose, while Assistant Director Michael Z grabbed Lynn “Louisville” Garrett and Michael McStartup (McCarty) from San Francisco. Meanwhile, Big Al retrieved Lauren “Shelties Come in Pairs” McMahon and Marissa “Phone Killer” Cameron from SJC. After moving their belongings into their fancy new Quad homes, Lynn, Michael, Emily, Marissa, Karl, and Lauren braved the HUGE lines and hectic atmosphere to experience the exquisite California cuisine that is In and Out. After lunch, it was on to meet Doug, Christy, Brad, Kristina, Mike and Desi at the O’Handley Hilton in Morgan Hill. While there, the group also met up with the international component of their crew: Thomas “Now THIS is a knife” Cooney (Australia), Janine “Canada’s Next Top Model” Baijnath (Canada), Quentin “I-don’t-actually-have-a-fiancé” Nenon (France), Natalia Larrea “Brita Filter” Brito (Spain/Canada. Spanada, if you will), and Mitsuhisa “Mmm Baba” Baba (Japan). They also met Brian “Mr. Campsite” Badders, who joined the group after a long road trip from North Dakota. Much swimming and hot tubing commenced at Doug’s, and a delicious dinner of BBQ chicken, grilled corn, and pasta/fruit/traditional salads was enjoyed by all. After a surprise welcome cake (with candles for Quentin’s Monday birthday), it was time for the Academites to thank their hosts and bid them adieu. Upon returning to their Quads, the students experienced their first Academy meeting and fell asleep, full of dreams of wind tunnels, rotor aircraft, supercomputers, and... ironing boards.

Monday, June 10th:
The day began bright and early, with the Academites arriving at 6:44am... looking fine in their business attire! Badging went “smoothly” for the Americans, while the internationals were determined to be “bad news bears”, whom would have to be badged a little later in the day. Then it was time for a quick breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, and juice out the back end of the “Blue Bruiser” minivan. After a group photo-op and Canadian helicopter history lesson at scenic Hangar 1, it was time for the Academites to attend the Ames-wide summer student orientation. This was followed up by the Academy-specific orientation where the Academites gave their first elevator pitches to introduce themselves. Doug covered the history and background of the Academy, while Brad dropped some serious life advice. The Academites and Alarkanie then walked over to Megabites for their first Ames lunch! Following the delectable noms, the chauffeurs (Alarkanie) drove some students to their PIs for their first introductions, while others had fingerprints taken to gain computer privileges on base. The afternoon was full of individual project-ing in the Academites’ new labs and offices. At the end of their workday, the students were tired and HANGRY. After much deliberation, the group selected Panera as the dinner destination. The Academites headed out into the rush hour traffic in search of sustenance, and were finally rewarded with the sweet sight of fro-yo. Emily and Lynn took their time carefully choosing flavors, while Michael topped his off with everything available. Following dinner, the students decided to buy groceries for their apartment and organize a dinner to cook for the following day. Upon arrival back at the quads, the group went into project discussions in preparation for the upcoming project proposal deadline. As the day wrapped up, the Academites snuggled into bed and fell fast asleep, dreaming of questions like “Do I need athletic clothes for team building?”; “Are they going to haze us?”; and “Is there a zombie apocalypse obstacle course tomorrow?”

Tuesday, June 11th:
Today began bright and early again, with all the Academites meeting up and walking over to Megabites for breakfast. The meal was filled with suspense and intrigue, as today was the day of mystery team building! At 8:00am, the students met with Brad to review the Academy’s safety plan, followed by a surprise briefing by Lynn Harper who sent them off on an ambitious, time-sensitive, mission involving SLS and Lunar Lander models. The teams were split into two, the clock started, and team building was off! Karl, Baba, and Emily hopped off to do some labor-intensive engineering, Lynn stayed “cool” as the clock started to “heat-up” (eh? eh?), Nat, Quentin, and Marissa covered themselves in crazy glue, Lauren and Michael calculated budget$, Janine ran stress laps through the building, and Brian was busy having babies while Tom tried to think of ways to stop him. Lead by their fearless team-leaders Brian, Janine, Tom, and Lauren, the teams managed to finish just in the nick of time, all the while learning about communication, rules/regulations/guidelines, management, and exactly how much time is spent on paperwork and in meetings at NASA. After work, the Academites intended on making dinner for each other, but due to the exhaustion they were enduring after only Day 2, they decided to order-in pizza. They ate their gourmet dinner and discussed the group project further to narrow down their topics and select a project to move forward with.

Wednesday, June 12th:
The Academites first full day with their mentors! Bright eyed and bushy tailed, the Academites met up ready to conquer the day, but first they went to Megabites for sustenance. Breakfast was full of chatter as students continued to get to know each other and discuss the group project. Shortly thereafter, they parted ways to go to their mentors and work on their individual projects. Many were extremely excited to get a whole day dedicated to their individual research! In the evening, Alarkanie picked up all of the students from their buildings since it was only their 2nd day there and they might need help finding the quads. The Academites then went home and started cooking a delicious pasta dinner together....well, Karl may have taken over the kitchen and not let people help him too much. While the chef(s) were making delicious foods, Tom, Lynn, Emily, and Marissa went to the store to buy groceries and to plan dinner for Doug and Christy the following night. When chef Karl said it was dinner time, the students rendezvoused in the community kitchen to eat dinner together. To their delight (surprise), it was actually quite yummy! They then continued to work on their group project late into the night.

Thursday, June 13th:
Once again, the students walked over to Megabites for breakfast, but this time “Uncle Chris” joined them to escort the internationals! (Isn’t he nice?) The students spent part of the morning with their mentors and then went to Lab Safety Bootcamp. Yay! LSB taught the Academites very important safety techniques and rules, but it was a long day for each of them. They spent the last part of their afternoons with their mentors after Bootcamp, but some left early to go cook dinner at Doug’s for the evening’s event. The Space Academites had their first Thursday Evening Lecture with the legend, the man, the one and only, Dr. Douglas O’Handley! Tom, Lynn, Brian, and Emily prepared tortellini with pesto, grilled chicken, and two different salads (including Australian Purple Stuff) for dinner. It was mighty delicious! Even professional food critics Alarkanie were impressed with their cooking skills for the first dinner... they set the bar really high for everyone else. :) Oh, and totally no one spilled chocolate everywhere and wore a hand towel as a shirt.

For dessert, the students had chocolate mousse with berries, which was also amazing. After all the dishes were washed, the Academites formed a semicircle of chairs around Doug in the backyard and listened to an amazing lecture under the stars. The students were blessed with many tales of Doug’s career and advice on how to build their own careers and move forward in their professional lives. The tired Academites then crawled into the cars, trying to stay awake so they could work on their group project when they arrived back at their quad. They were up into the wee hours of the night finishing the group project proposal that was due the next morning to Alarkanie and the management team.

Friday, June 14th:
Finally Friday came! TGIF! The students spent the whole day working on their individual projects (except at lunch time.) Lynn Harper offered to meet with the Academites to discuss their group project proposal, so the students grabbed food to go at Megabites and trekked over to the Space Portal. While eating lunch, the students and Lynn Harper discussed biological experiments that were relevant to their group project idea. The RAs then returned to work with a nice car ride from minivan dad Mark.

After work, the Academites decided to go to the nearby Foothills College for Brian Day’s lecture about the LADEE mission. Just a typical Friday night for a bunch of space enthusiasts! When the Academy entered the building, Brian Day was happy to see that the entourage of students made it out for the talk and that all were awake and attentive, despite the little sleep they had the night prior. Following the lecture, the students returned home for a fun night in bonding with each other, the staff, and alumni who stopped by the quads.

Saturday, June 15th:
The Academites got to sleep in today, for they didn’t have to meet Alarkanie until 8:30am! It was a glorious morning. The students hopped into Bruiser (the baby blue minivan driven by Markle) and the Rapmobile (the big black SUV driven by the most thug of all, Stephanie) and drove into San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate was quite foggy so early in the morning so the students took a few snapshots and their Academy parents (Alarkanie) made them pose for many family photos.

Next, the group moved to Lombard Street to drive down the curviest street in the world. Stephanie felt uncomfortable driving it in the big Tahoe. Bruiser, having a much cooler driver, went down it without any doubts. Next, the students walked down Lombard Street taking pictures while Stephanie decided she could handle the SUV down that road. The students piled back into the vehicles and the Rapmobile went down the road weaving and winding safely.

The cars met back up at Pier 39 to go visit the sea lions located outside the Sea Lion Cafe. The carnivorous Academites, mainly Tom and Brian, joked about how delicious the sea lions must taste served fresh at the restaurant. The students then wandered upon Karl’s possible future self, a magician telling bad jokes and making balloon animals. After hearing too many poor jokes, the group explored the specialty shops around Pier 39. Lauren found a nifty lefthand specific store, Natalia explored the puppet shop, Alarkanie bought some special socks for some of the management team, and others got coffee/espresso. Next, the whole group walked down to Boudin for a San Francisco classic, soup in a bread bowl. Everyone enjoyed their food and then moved onto the Musee de Mechanique (an arcade museum). Many quarters were spent in the pursuit of finding our fortunes and love life advice. There were a surprising number of dead fish in the group, and all were shocked to see that Michael’s true career aspirations were to become a nudist. After the students had seen most every game played, they decided it was time to go to the Golden Gate in hopes the fog had lifted so they could take better pictures.

At the Golden Gate Bridge, the Rapmobile (Marissa, Lynn, Baba, Quentin, Lauren, Karl, Emily, and Stephanie) took group photos together and noticed that silly Karl had rust on his bum from trying to slide down a rail on the stairs........it was a great time. The Man Van (Thomas, Brian, Michael, Mark, Janine, Natalia, and Alana) also returned to the Golden Gate Bridge for some scenic photographs and “jumping” activities.

Next, the Academy went to the Exploratorium. Parking here proved to be quite complicated (and expensive), but spots were finally found for both vehicles. Lauren and Stephanie went on a walk to Pier 39 and bought street art while everyone else adventured through the Exploratorium, enjoying and participating in exhibits on shadow art, ghost sightings, and personal space levels. (All the while learning that Karl has none.) After leaving the Pier area and going on another adventure in traffic management, the Academites arrived at the Stinking Rose for the traditional Academy Alumni dinner.

The meals were delicious at the Stinking Rose, and the students got to interact with several alums (Alex Bogatko, John Scoville, John Conley, Michael Zero, Joe Starek, Sophie Milam, and Chris Teubert). The students enjoyed getting to know many who had been in their shoes just a few short summers ago. Afterwards, the students decided to go straight to Ghirardelli Square for delicious desserts.

At Ghirardelli Square, Stephanie parked that Chevy Tahoe Rapmobile like a champ in a parallel parking spot and received a resounding round of applause from the whole car. They then rejoiced by stuffing themselves with tons of ice cream and chocolate.

The car ride home was fairly silent as the students slipped into a sugar coma (or it could have been from the 15 hour day they’d had.) The first week of the Academy was officially over!

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