A group of 300 high school students in Florida will have soon visited the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for an educational experience, thanks to a program underwritten and arranged by Delaware North Chairman Jeremy Jacobs and his family.
Prospective rocket scientists from Wellington and Palm Beach Central high schools visited the home of professional rocket scientists on Feb. 6, with another group set to attend on Feb. 13. This is the third annual outing by students in those schools’ STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and math); nearly 1,000 students will have benefitted from the tours at the conclusion of the Feb. 13 installment. 
“Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs’ generosity to these students will expose them to an incredible opportunity to learn more about space. A trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings science, technology, engineering and mathematics to life for students by touring Kennedy Space Center, hearing from space experts, experiencing real flown spacecraft and engaging in interactive simulators and exhibits. This program shows the influence a visit to Kennedy Space Center can have on students preparing for their college majors and career choices,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The students selected for the trips take the schools’ most challenging classes: advanced placement chemistry, physics, pre-calculus, calculus, and engineering. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which is operated by Delaware North for NASA, offers an ideal experience for students enrolled in STEM education.
The customized trips – designed by the visitor complex’s educational staff and the students’ teachers – include an information “scavenger” hunt through the Rocket Garden and an air-rocket build and test launch. The students also learn firsthand what space travel is like from an astronaut.
“It is so exciting to welcome these talented young students to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex each year and to see their enthusiasm and aptitude for math, science and engineering,” said veteran NASA astronaut Jon McBride, pilot of STS-41G/Challenger. “These students and others like them are the future of America’s space program and I am honored to share my expertise and experiences with them as part of NASA’s astronaut corps to help them realize their dreams, whatever they may be.”
And, of course, no trip would be complete without experiencing the visitor complex’s Shuttle Launch Experience.   
“The flight simulation left the biggest impression on me,” Terah Kalk, who was part of the inaugural group in 2013, recalled. “I got to act as the doctor. I was so excited! I’m an anthropology major on the pre-med track at the University of Florida. After the field trip I decided if we ever colonize in space I would volunteer to be the doctor. I’ve always been drawn to the stars and space exploration, and the trip to Kennedy Space Center made the idea more feasible.”
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