Whesley De Los Santos, an eighth-grader at Copiague Middle School,...

Whesley De Los Santos, an eighth-grader at Copiague Middle School, was among 48 students nationwide to attend a space camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama in early August. (October 2011) Credit: Handout

Whesley De Los Santos is still flying high after spending a week training like an astronaut.

De Los Santos, an eighth-grader at Copiague Middle School, was among 48 students nationwide to attend a space camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama in early August. He was accompanied by Monica Csorny, a science teacher at the school, who was among 16 teachers to attend.

During the trip, De Los Santos rode a chair that simulates gravity on the moon, participated in simulated takeoff exercises and rode a spinning device that reproduces the disorientation one would feel during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

"It was a life-changing experience," said De Los Santos, 13. "You don't get to do this stuff every day. It was really great."

De Los Santos said he interviewed for the opening along with about 15 other students at his school. The opportunity was offered through a partnership between the Copiague School District and Northrop Grumman Corp.

"This far exceeded my expectations," said Csorny, who attended a series of science workshops and said she plans to integrate ideas she learned into classroom lessons. "It filled me with great pride for our space program and technology."

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