Week 2 SQP (June 16th - June 22nd)

Written By: Thomas Cooney and Quentin Nénon

Sunday, June 16th:
After an action packed day up in San Francisco, the Academites took advantage of the free day to sleep in until noon. A deadline of 2pm was optimistically set to start working on the group project proposal presentation, but long queues in the laundry room and the need to eat lunch and get quarters put paid to that idea. Work started at 3pm and continued until stomachs started rumbling; Papa John’s came to the rescue, delivering inexpensive fare to keep body and soul together. All took some time to meet our new friends across the wall who had only recently arrived, and we envied the five star treatment they would soon be receiving at the O'Handley Hilton. Some Academites blew off some steam by playing volleyball, and work continued late into the night. An auditorium was set up in House Ravenclaw's room, and after much umming and aahing and "that bullet point makes no sense," the presenters were confident explaining the group project proposal. Four and a half hours of sleep were then stolen!

Monday, June 17th:
The space cadets woke up to the dulcet tones of alarm clocks and hurried off to breakfast at trusty MegaBites. It appears that most of the Academy have settled into regular breakfast choices. After a few hours of work, we saw our Aero Academy doppelgangers again at lunch, and they seemed to be settling in nicely. The presenters of the group project (Brian, Michael, and Tom) quickly reviewed their slides before presenting to the management panel which included Brad, Kristina, Mike, Mark, Steph and Alana. Insightful questions were asked, and some of them were answered. A better idea of the direction we should take and the pitfalls we should look out for was obtained, and the Academy left determined to bring the project to a satisfactory conclusion. Back at the Quads, we reminisced about the week past at MNL and then proceeded to discuss what to have for dinner. In classic Academy form, this took an hour! After a brief introduction to gridiron for the Internationals, an expedition was sent out to hunt down some Chipotle and Panera Bread. Back at the ranch and driven delirious with hunger, the remaining Academites rearranged the tables in a fit of dance fever and proceeded to rock out to classics including the Macarena and hits by the Spice Girls. Once the expedition returned, all thoughts of the final proposal were abandoned while a dance party was held until quiet time. The Academy then pulled together to get the final proposal completed, leaving a luxurious six hours for sleep.

Tuesday, June 18th:
The Academites’ busy day of individual research was punctuated today with an illuminating talk by Natalie Bathala about the Kepler mission at the fortnightly Director's Colloquium. Unfortunately Natalie Batalha could not be present, but she very kindly presented an introduction to us over Skype. Douglas Caldwell then detailed the background of the Kepler mission, explaining the creative engineering that was required to get the first Vulcan telescope working at the Lick Observatory, which later led on to a sophisticated satellite instrument. The students were amazed at how many planets had been discovered by the mission, especially considering these were only the planets with their orbital planes lining up with the line of sight from Kepler, and that only 1/360th of the sky was analyzed! After returning home from work, the general consensus was to give group project work a miss for tonight; Subway was bought, volleyball was played, laps were swum and running tracks were traversed. Some Academites teamed up with their Aero buddies and braved an intermediate Salsa dance class, with hilarious yet educational results.

Wednesday, June 19th:
After a nutritious breakfast, the Academites experienced a rare day of pure individual research. It was a stressful day for some, with screens failing and presentations pending, but everyone made it back home at 5:30pm with their sanity intact. The team displayed their mastery of logistics and the culinary arts by whipping up an impressive meal for 12 in record time, with everyone fed and the kitchen clean. A long discussion ensued about the group project, with the coming tasks for the next two weeks defined in detail, and team members were assigned to each one to get the ball rolling. Everyone now knew what they had to do for the coming fortnight, so some Academites took a relaxing walk while others caught up with friends, family and significant others.

Thursday, June 20th:
The Space Academy was treated to an hour-long presentation about the prevention of discrimination and harassment in the morning. After a few hours of furious research, the group came back together for lunch. In the afternoon, some lucky students received their bikes from the NASA bicycle distribution center! The group arrived back home for dinner, and realized that everyone was too exhausted to cook (plus there were no groceries in the Quads), and we were overjoyed when our loving staffers took us out to dinner. There was much rejoicing, and the team headed out to Chili’s where food of dubious nutritional value was consumed in large quantities and those who had the foresight to order dessert were eyed enviously. Quentin had a fun night in San Jose with his French friends, and back at the ranch, Karl led students through a game that made everyone’s brains hurt, and all went to bed.

Friday, June 21st:
Another day of full individual research for the Academites! Well almost… the students got to leave work early for an afternoon mixer event with students from SLSTP and the Aeronautics and Robotics Academies. It was the occasion to play basketball with Kristina’s sons, discover the American game of kick-ball, and to enjoy the Frisbee skills of Brad. A good barbecue was also supplied by our lovely staffers! After that, the Academy prepared their meals for the weekend camping trip in the Pinnacle National Park. Marissa rented a car for the occasion while Michael and Karl (sadly) left for the weekend because of weddings and drumming events (they were sorely missed!)

Saturday, June 22nd:
After snatching as much sleep as possible, the Space Cadets woke up to leave for CAMPING at 8am (sort of...) After being expertly driven by our surrogate parents Brian and Marissa to Pinnacles National Monument/Newly Minted National Park, we found ourselves pitching tents in our very own camping spot. Assembling the tents provided by the staffers brought back memories of the teambuilding challenge (as some parts were missing and we had way more pieces than we needed), but we got there in the end. Janine and Natalia elected to hang out at the pool while the rest of the gang went out hiking in caves. Many rocks were clambered on, and Lauren’s heart rate was raised by the group straying off the beaten track and exploring some uncharted areas. During the hike, some wonderful vistas were observed, and bad sunburn was experienced. The group returned to the campsite dirty and tired, and jumped into the freezing, murky, chlorinated body of water that served as the pool. Ice creams and chips were purchased from the store just before closing time. Students returned to the campsite for dinner, and Brian had the foresight earlier in the day to put vegetable soup cans in the sun so all would at least have some warm food. Discussions were held late into the night, and Academites later learned that the entire camping ground enjoyed them. Several campers commented on how much better they knew each other, which was nice. The Academites snuggled up together in the main tent, except for Natalia, who preferred to snuggle up to some red ants. Quentin, being an honourable gentleman, suffered along with her to keep her company.

Sunday, June 23rd:
After waking groggily at 8:30AM, the team went into overdrive to pack up the site and get on with the days hike. We loaded everyone and everything into the cars, and headed up to the High Peaks trail. The views were even more spectacular than the day before, as we were much higher up. It was a taxing hike, with several rest breaks and PB&Js required. Brian found an excellent climbing rock right on the valley, and bravely scaled the edifice (with his trusty belayer Marissa keeping a close eye on him) to set up the rope for the rest of the group. Everyone successfully made it to the top (except for Tom, who had a dicky knee), and there was much rejoicing and photo taking. The hike back down the mountain was accomplished in record time thanks to the kindly assistance of gravity, and the group set of for the O’Handley Hilton, tired and dirty. The Academites delighted in the pool, Jacuzzi, and KFC provided by Doug and Christie. All enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with them again, as it had been over a week since the last trip to Morgan Hill. After a long weekend of outdoor fun, everyone was very happy to get into their showers upon arriving back at the Quads late Sunday night.

Picture of the Week:
Week 2

Video Clip of the Week: