Kids! of the Month
Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!
Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things. We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements.
Amazing Kids! of the Month for September, 2004:
Amazing Space Camp Founder, Becca Robison; Ogden City, Utah!
(back row, second from left) with her team of volunteers,
(back row) and some of her "Little Dippers" campers
Quotes of the Month:
"Our goal is to encourage girls to REACH FOR THE STARS."
"I want to be an astronaut. I want to work for NASA, I want to know all there is to know about the worlds beyond our own. As kids we are always told to reach for the stars, but what I REALLY want, is to visit them…."
"All it takes to make a difference in a situation like this, is to be the one who is willing to try! Instead of sitting around saying, "Hmmm, something really needs to be done about this," DO IT! You will be amazed at the support you get, and if it is something you really love, it never seems like work, it’s just fun!"
"Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better; its not."
Welcome to our September Amazing Kid! of the Month story! This month, we set our sights even higher than usual: to the stars and beyond! Our story this month features an amazing budding astronaut and space camp founder, 13 year old Becca Robison and her Astrotots space camp she created right in her own backyard. If you or someone you know loves science, outer space, or rockets, or if you have dreams of becoming an astronaut, then this story is definitely for you!
Read Becca's inspiring story below, and who knows? You may just find yourself visiting a space camp yourself next summer--or starting one of your own!
And don't forget, if you, or a young person (or persons!) you know, has an amazing project or a special skill, talent or ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids! know about it! Teachers are invited to nominate their entire classroom and the amazing projects they are working on too! Simply complete a nomination form for an Amazing Kids! of the Month award, or email us!
Amazing Becca Robison
Becca Robison was a preteen, she started thinking about how amazing it would
be to become an astronaut. Some of the kids that she mentioned this to
would just laugh and say that being an astronaut was for boys, not girls. Then she heard about
Sally Ride, a woman who had gone into space for the United States. Becca was determined to change the attitude
that space exploration was just for girls to dream about. She wanted more
people to realize that space was something not just for boys, but for girls as
also wanted more girls to be exposed to the idea that science and
technology jobs were also options for girls to pursue when they got
amazing Becca decided to start a space camp for young girls in her own
neighborhood! Word about the camp quickly spread and now
her camp, called "Astrotots"
is thriving and receiving much national attention and
acclaim! The camp is for girls between the ages of 4 and 10 and runs
for one week, two hours each morning, and best of all, its free!
Even though Becca began her space camp with young girls in mind, even boys will think it’s cool to hear how our Amazing Kid! of the Month for September started her program and keeps it going with an exciting, challenging and fun space camp.
Becca's future as an astronaut or astrophysicist isn't just evident with her space camp activities. She is a student at Fairfield Junior High where she is active in her school’s Science Olympiad Team. She and her fellow Science Olympiad team members won a State Bronze Medal! Becca has won many awards and accolades locally and on a state level as well as in the media.
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In Her Own Words: An Interview with Becca
AK: How did you became interested in the idea of starting a space camp for girls?
BECCA: I became interested in starting a camp the very first time I went to Space Camp myself. I guess I was always a little embarrassed about how much I loved science and math as a little girl. It made me feel a little different. All my friends were into playing Princess while I was in my room studying the life cycle of frogs or using my microscope. My mom had me in dance lessons and I even did some acting in community theatre, which I liked, but it wasn’t really “my thing.” In our area there just isn‘t anything else to do in the 4-10 year old range. Even most sports don’t start around here until girls are about 8. But, when I was 10 I was old enough to go to the local space camp and for the first time in my life I felt like I found what I REALLY loved. I met kids that thought science was as cool as I did, and I realized that the space sciences are the coolest thing in the world! I started talking about Space Camp all the time and decided right then that I wanted to be an astronaut. But when I would talk about wanting to be an astronaut to other girls, especially the little ones I would baby sit, they would giggle and tell me that it was a boy’s job. My mom told me that they just hadn’t had any exposure to anything else. There just wasn’t anything out there in our area for little girls other than dance lessons. So, that is when I decided to see if it was something they would like. So, I planned a little “space camp” in my back yard for the little neighbor girls from 4-10 to see what would happen. That was the very beginnings of AstroTots, Space Camp for Little Dippers and since then it has become a major event that happens at least 5 times a year!
AK: What steps did you take to set it up?
BECCA: I did a lot of research online to find things I thought would interest the girls. At the age group I wanted to target, I needed to have a lot of what they would like, such as crafts, songs and then slip in some science while I was at it. I wanted them to see that science was fun! I made an “Astronaut Flight Suit” from my dads old work coveralls, put on my “Space Themes” soundtrack and the girls started to arrive. We did several of the things you see on my website (although MANY new ones have been added since we started to really take off!) and shot off a model rocket. I was so happy to see how excited all the girls were. When it was over, I knew they had a new attitude about science. That afternoon, little presents started arriving on my doorstep. Hand scrawled thank you and pictures of space were left on my doorstep for weeks. Even little rocks the girls had found that they were sure were from the moon or something! Then my phone started to ring. Moms from all over, who had heard about my camp from the mothers of kids who attended were calling to see if I was doing it again, and asking how they could get their girls involved. That is when I knew that there was a need out there that I had to fill.
My mom and I started searching the Internet for grants for kids and found several. Youth Service America has been really supportive (and really helpful in guiding me through making this a major event!) I decided that we could do about 25 girls at a time if I could get enough volunteers. That wasn’t a problem, because by this time I had been added to the local Space Camp’s VIP program (Volunteer Interaction Program) where I volunteered up at camp with other kids who loved space as much as me! The other girls up there were excited to help. I planned out the activities and then we went and priced out everything and realized that we would need about $500 to do our first major event. We got a grant and we were on our way!
Since that time, AstroTots has been so successful that our local Space Camp even let us have it right in their building! Ed Douglas, who started the major space camp here in our area wrote little mini shuttle missions for my campers and they got to experience what it would be like to be actually on a space shuttle mission! Besides my regular camps I have also done mini-camps for girls scout groups, 4-H groups and even an all girl preschool! We are planning a camp on Hill Air Force Base in early October for the daughters of soldiers that are in Iraq. It has been amazing the kind of support we have gotten. Mayors, Governors, and science and education professionals have all come to shoot off rockets or man a learning center to help support AstroTots. We have received awards from both local and national business (which have come with a little $$ which helps us to do more camps!) as well as local TV stations! I was even honored on the floor of the House of Representatives for my service efforts!
AK: Your website is awesome! Did you have a lot to do with its setup?
BECCA: Thanks so much!!! Yes, I did the site. I have been doing websites since I was 6. The first ones were really dorky, you know, about cartoons I liked or something. I told you, I was a strange kid. My folks have had computers in the house since the very first Apple came out, so my siblings and I have always been really comfortable with working on computers. I still have a lot to learn though. I am really proud of the AstroTots site, although the pictures were all taken by either my dad or mostly by Anna, our camp photographer. All I did was put their great pictures up for everyone to see.
AK: What are your goals for the future?
BECCA: For me personally, I want to be an astronaut. I want to work for NASA, I want to know all there is to know about the worlds beyond our own. As kids we are always told to reach for the stars, but what I REALLY want, is to visit them….
BECCA: For my camps? I want to make them grow and expand to serve all the girls who want to be involved. For our last camp, we put an ad in the paper about it and ended up having to turn away over 100 girls! That just made me sick. Right now, we can only serve about 25 girls at a time, because that is all the $$ you can get at one time for grants for kids. So each camp has to wait until I get more grant money. I daydream about having my own little building where I can do after school type science programs for girls and have regular funding coming in so people would always know when to expect each camp. I’ve realized that the reason that all the girls from 4-10 in my state are running around in tutu’s is that there is nothing else out there for them! We manage to have 5 camps a year right now, but it is at random times because the $$ comes in randomly. And, it’s not nearly enough to fill the demand that is out there. But I have to be satisfied to do what I can and see that every day we are steps closer to doing more!
BECCA: I recently got funding from Youth Venture to expand my project to other science areas as well. In late October we will be having our first ever “Mad Female Scientist” camp. We will be teaching the girls experiments they can do at home out of everyday kitchen supplies. (Even things like “silly putty” and “gooze”) Plus I will show them a few fancy ones too. In the spring I will be introducing one about bugs. But, AstroTots will be my first love forever!
AK: What advice do you have for kids interested in space?
BECCA: Learn all you can! It is so fascinating! So much of what we enjoy here on earth was first developed in space! There are some great links on my website to sites they can explore. Also, if you are near to any kind of Space Camp, GO GO GO!!! I’ve never been to the big ones run by NASA or anything, (but I’m saving up to go…) but the one here absolutely changed my life. Many astronauts have written books about their experiences – Sally Ride’s are my favorite.
AK: What has been your most incredible experience?
BECCA: Well, on a personal level I would most definitely have to say that it was the day I won the Nestle Very Best in Youth Award. That was a huge honor and it really made me see that I was on the right track, and there were people out there that not only supported what I was doing, but felt I could accomplish anything I wanted to do. That was a defining moment for me, and I believed more in myself and what I could do than I ever did before. That experience turned into even more that I could dream. Mr. Ken Bentley, who runs the program, arranged for me to meet Dr. Sally Ride, the first American Women in Space! I got to hear first hand of her trips into space, and see her very own photographs from it! It was the most incredible experience I will ever have in my life. I’m sure getting married and having kids and all that will come close, but right now, I have a hard time thinking anything can top Sally Ride.
AK: The most rewarding experience?
BECCA: The most rewarding experience from camp was overhearing a conversation between a camper and her mom as they were leaving camp. The camper told her mom that she wanted to be an astronaut. “But I thought you were going to be a dancer” her mom said. The little girl answered “Not anymore, I’m a SCIENTIST!”
AK: How can other kids get involved so that they can have that "out of this world" feeling, too?
BECCA: We are expanding the camps to other states! All you have to do is email me at email@example.com and I will send out an instruction packet on how to do each activity. All they have to do is commit to sharing their photos with us! There are two camps coming up before Christmas, if they can get them scheduled (building scheduling is also a problem sometimes, and I‘m not there to help them...), one in California and one in Nevada. I am planning on attending both of them to help them kick off their AstroTot “satellite” camps.
AK: How can someone sign up for your camp?
BECCA: Now that one is tricky right now. I have a waiting list from my last camp that is more than I can fill with SEVERAL more camps! But, normally, they can watch the paper, or probably the best would be to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get put on the waiting list. I will hopefully be caught up at some point and find other ways to let girls know how to get involved.
AK: Any final words of advice for kids?
BECCA: All it takes to make a difference in a situation like this, is to be the one who is willing to try! Instead of sitting around saying, "Hmmm, something really needs to be done about this," DO IT! You will be amazed at the support you get, and if it is something you really love, it never seems like work, it’s just fun!
Becca's Astrotots Website
You can read about Becca and her volunteer staff, made up of young teens (many of whom are former space campers), on her website: www.astrotots.org. Be prepared to be inspired! Some of the website's highlights are its cool ideas for space-related projects that young space enthusiasts can try at home! Editor’s Note: To all those students, teachers and parents out there -- keep this site in mind for those annual science fair projects! It’s loaded with great ideas!
Becca's website is full of fun projects and great links to other organizations with opportunities for kids to learn about space and participate in other space programs for kids.
Some of the topics
on her website include:
We at Amazing Kids! will be watching the night sky for your own space ship in the coming years, Becca! Best of luck to a truly amazing future Astronaut and shining star!
Becca's Astrotots website: www.astrotots.org
Amazing Space Education Program - the website of the Space Telescope Science Institute's Office of Public Reach and their Formal Education Group:
NASA Kids: http://kids.msfc.nasa.gov/
Becca's Suggested Space Links (listed on her website):
Connect for Kids article on Becca
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