Dreams of one day possibly reaching for the stars got a little bit closer for a Kyle 12-year-old.
Earlier this summer, Isabel Nordyke, of Kyle, fulfilled a dream by attending an American Girl Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Nordyke has been interested in space and space travel since she was in the second grade. Kathryn Nordyke, Isabel’s mother, said her daughter’s love of the stars began well before then.
Nordyke’s curiosity for the cosmos was first sparked by a trip to the planetarium with a family friend; at school, she borrowed books from the library solely about planets and stars.
“I think it’s fascinating that there’s things beyond our planet and outside of what we’ve known for years,” Nordyke said while sitting in her blue flight suit she received at camp, holding her American Girl doll dressed to match.
The weeklong space camp was designed to promote confidence and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics among young girls.
However, Isabel already seems to have that confidence.
“I just really enjoy [science]. I don’t think much about being a different gender, I just enjoy it and studying it,” Isabel said.
Earlier this year, Kathryn had applied for Isabel to attend the camp, with the condition that she had to help raise half of the $600 attendance cost.
With her parents’ help, Nordyke sold around 60 hand-crocheted wash clothes on a funding website to come up with the funds.
Nordyke said the camp was a lot of fun, but, “it was fun raising the money for the camp too,” she said.
During camp, Isabel’s days were packed full of different space-related activities. Building robots, building and launching model rockets, doing a practice mission and then an actual simulated mission, along with meeting an astronaut and a female rocket scientist.
Isabel said that one day, the group walked about three miles as they toured the large campus of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
It was hard for Isabel to determine the best part of the camp, but she said that one of her favorite moments was when she got to be the flight director for her group’s simulated mission into space.
During that exercise, Isabel was essentially in charge of the mission and made sure everything ran smoothly.
Up until now, Isabel’s career aspirations had been to be an astronaut, but after she learned about all the other important positions at NASA, she is excited to explore more of those options.
“I’ve thought about being a part of mission control because I really liked doing that at space camp. Just doing the simulator was still a lot of fun,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t have to do all the scary work, but I got to see it all and still be a part of the mission.”
She was also excited about the bunkbeds at the camp.
“There’re these really cool bunkbeds that everybody talks about,” Isabel said. “It kind of felt like a fun futuristic camp-room.”
Originally from a small town in California, Isabel’s old school did not have a very strong science curriculum.
“I basically taught myself science,” Isabel said.
Nordyke has been homeschooled for the past two years, but now, going into seventh grade, she will be attending a charter school in Austin this fall.
She is excited to share her space camp experiences and start taking more advanced science and math classes to continue on her path to the stars.