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Rancho Pico Junior High School students get their own space odyssey

Posted: May 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.
(Above) Eighth grader Andrea Sastillo, space shuttle pilot, uses a joystick and a flight simulator in the mock cockpit to “land” the space shuttle built in the computer lab at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson. (Above) Eighth grader Andrea Sastillo, space shuttle pilot, uses a joystick and a flight simulator in the mock cockpit to “land” the space shuttle built in the computer lab at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.
(Above) Eighth grader Andrea Sastillo, space shuttle pilot, uses a joystick and a flight simulator in the mock cockpit to “land” the space shuttle built in the computer lab at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.
Andrea Sastillo, right, assists fellow eighth grader Tessa Duban-Jurado as she puts on her space suit in preparation for a “space walk.” Signal photo by Dan Watson. Andrea Sastillo, right, assists fellow eighth grader Tessa Duban-Jurado as she puts on her space suit in preparation for a “space walk.” Signal photo by Dan Watson.
Andrea Sastillo, right, assists fellow eighth grader Tessa Duban-Jurado as she puts on her space suit in preparation for a “space walk.” Signal photo by Dan Watson.
Eighth grader Ehinomen Edo, left, medical officer, wears a lab coat as she walks with Sierra Cottrell,  a "freindly alien" to where a mock moon walk will take place during the Shuttle Simulator Project at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Wednesday, Signal photo by Dan Watson. Eighth grader Ehinomen Edo, left, medical officer, wears a lab coat as she walks with Sierra Cottrell,  a "freindly alien" to where a mock moon walk will take place during the Shuttle Simulator Project at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Wednesday, Signal photo by Dan Watson.
Eighth grader Ehinomen Edo, left, medical officer, wears a lab coat as she walks with Sierra Cottrell,  a "freindly alien" to where a mock moon walk will take place during the Shuttle Simulator Project at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Wednesday, Signal photo by Dan Watson.
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Eighth graders at Rancho Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch got an out-of-this-world lesson Wednesday during the Shuttle Simulator Project.

The space experience was the culmination of a science astronomy class, complete with a detailed shuttle mission, command center and space walk to interest students in the field of aerospace and space exploration. Four groups of eighth graders were selected as mission teams.

Students had to apply for the various space jobs and complete an extra credit project to be selected for the various positions, including pilot, astronaut and mission controller.

Science teacher Liz Virnelson started the project in 2000 and has been sending students to “space” ever since.

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