6th Grader Adventures At AstroCamp

“We do this every year and it’s one of the highlights of 6th grade hands down. I believe it’s a more meaningful experience for students to have that hands-on learning outside in nature with their teachers. It’s powerful for us as well.” ~Sarah Nguyen

In October the 6th grade packs up and travels to AstroCamp’s 80-acre campus in the San Jacinto Mountains near the town of Idyllwild to experience STEM, team building, and outdoor adventure activities.

“Students explore the sciences of physics and astronomy, develop as individuals, and foster their sense of wonder.” ~ AstroCamp

Lead by the two 6th Grade Teachers, Sarah Nguyen and Robin von der Lancken, the students boarded the bus for three days of adventure. They returned excited by their journey, revived, and having grown a little closer as a class. And it all begins with choosing the activities.

“Typically Robin and I will pick activities that were popular in past years. Microgravity is really fun because they get to experience zero gravity as though they were in space but they’re in a pool. It’s always a hit. We did some night time telescope viewing. They have several high powered telescopes at camp.The kids were amazed because they could see the multiple rings of Saturn. And a couple of us saw some shooting stars. We chose Making and Launching rockets, where the kids designed a two liter bottle to look and function like a rocket. So the wings of the rocket are on the side and the jets are on the bottom. The jets are activated by filling the bottle with water and then going to a field where there is a launchpad with air nozzles sticking up. They place their “rockets” over the nozzle, press a button, and air is forced into the bottle of water ‘launching’ the rocket off the pad and into the air. We returned to campus with all the data and now we will calculate whose went the highest. They had a stopwatch and started the timer when the rocket lifts up and stop it when the rocket reaches its peak before it starts to fall back to earth. And from that time we can determine whose went the highest.” – Sarah Nguyen

High Point’s customized activities included daily adventures chosen from STEM, Adventure, and Evening options.


Lights & Lasers: Learn about the physical properties of light by experimenting with lasers, ultraviolet lights, spectrum glasses, an infrared camera, a phosphorescent wall, and more!
Microgravity: Learn about buoyancy and experience the challenge of constructing a mock satellite in a neutrally buoyant environment. Swimsuit and towel required.
Building & Launching Rockets (2 class periods): Use what you know about forces and the laws of motion to design and build a model rocket. Launch your own rockets powered by water and pressurized air.


Day Hike (1 class period): Explore AstroCamp’s forest trails and learn about local flora and fauna.
Sky Coaster: Swing through the air after classmates raise you up via a pulley system.
Zipline: Climb up a cargo net, then zip 700 feet across a meadow.


Telescope Viewing: Spend an hour learning to use binoculars and telescopes to view deep-sky objects.
Astro Olympics: Compete in a series of relay-type games in this fun and active program.

The pictures and quotes below share the exciting adventures experienced by all.

“I liked the skycoaster the best. You get lifted up all the way up to the top of the trees. And when you are ready you pull a cord and drop down and you start swinging back and forth. It was really fun. I would totally do AstroCamp Again!” ~Simon

“My favorite activity was the Zipline. You climb up this rope and they hook you on this cable and you go swinging down the line. And your teacher has to throw you a ball. ” ~Madeline

“My favorite memory was we stayed up and we would play hangman and draw and we had a lot of fun! “~Camilla

“One of my favorite things at astrocamp was the Zipline. I had done one before but this one was longer and higher. ” ~Jacob

“I really enjoyed the Skycoaster – It was fun because you went up really high and it was fun but also really scary! I’ve never done that before. I wanted to do it again.” ~Emma

“My favorite activity was the Microgravity which took place in the pool. You worked with a partner to build a cube but you couldn’t talk and you had to stay in the water. At the end we put all the cubes together. They gave us hand signals to use.” ~Nika

“Really awesome opportunity for us, teachers, to see our students outside the classroom environment where we are so often focused on academics. We could see them in their ‘friendship’ habitat where we had conversations with the kids. But we also got to see them interact with their peers in a more congenial way. And seeing some friends that you know are friends connect with others who they don’t usually associate with at school was really cool.” ~Robin von der Lancken

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