By Ryan Yousefi
A 12-year-old from Coral Springs was recently was awarded an opportunity to have an out-of-this-world experience, returning home to talk all about it.
Jayda Washington-Boothe, a seventh-grader at Sawgrass Springs Middle School, earned the opportunity via a scholarship to attend Space Camp located at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
As a recipient of the 2020 U.S. Rocket and Space Center Hall of Fame Scholarship, it is an honor given to only a select number of students across America.
The weeklong educational program promotes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) while training students to do hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving.
Attendees get thorough training with a team that flew a simulated space mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, or Mars. They are also treated to some pretty incredible real-life educational procedures astronauts must go through before taking flight.
According to Jayda, a member of both the robotics team and chess club at her school, she went through a challenging process to get accepted.
“To start….students had to write a paragraph that talked about some of the technology we’ve worked with,” Jayda said.
Her mother, Annejanette, added that Jayda was required to fill out a rigorous 20-item questionnaire in addition to the essay.
Jayda says her interest in space spiked four years ago when she was introduced to robotics. Since then, she’s branched out and became interested in space. One of the best parts of camp was the simulated space expeditions, some of which brought experiences you likely wouldn’t find at Universal Studios.
“We were able to simulate 4G’s of force for about a minute. Our entire group went on it 11 times a day,” Jayda said. “We also were able to ride on a sort of roller coaster that featured an extreme drop simulation that was a lot of fun.”
Outside of her interest in Space, Jayda has been taking the world by storm. This past month, she was named a Top 50 Finalist for Nickelodeon/Time Magazine Kid of the Year 2020 and is awaiting word if she has made the Top 20.
She’s also an avid soccer player and a member of numerous clubs both inside the school and away from the classroom.
While Jayda is still a year-plus away from entering high school, she’s already got her eye on the future, saying her goal is to become an aerospace engineer. While she loved Space Camp, her ultimate goals don’t include entering space — not as an astronaut.
“I’d possibly want to go to space for fun,” Jayda said. “But I wouldn’t want to go through all the training astronauts go through.”
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- Ryan Yousefi has lived in Coral Springs for over 30 years. He has worked as a writer for multiples outlets over the years, including the Miami New Times where he has covered sports and culture since 2013. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Business Healthcare Management from Western Governors University.