Make The Connection

June 29, 2018 | By Cole Hatcher

Professor Robert Harmon (left) led 13 Ohio Wesleyan students on a trip to England and Germany to delve deep into astronomy. Their May trip, part of The OWU Connection, followed completion of a semester-long course on space exploration. (Photo by Reilly Wright '20)

Space Exploration

Ohio Wesleyan students Visit Europe, Germany for Astronomy-Themed Adventures

Name: Lucie Olson ’18

Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Major: East Asian Studies

Minor: Sociology/Anthropology

Name: Reilly Wright ’20

Hometown: Delaware, Ohio

Major: Communication

Minor: Journalism

Experience: Travel-Learning Course, Astronomy 110, “Space Exploration: Past, Present, and Future”

Thirteen Ohio Wesleyan students*, including Olson and Wright, visited England and Germany in May after completing their semester-long course on space exploration. Professor Robert Harmon led the trip, which included tours in the United Kingdom of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath, and Stonehenge. In Germany, they visited the ESA’s European Astronaut Centre, the European Space Operations Centre (where interplanetary missions are controlled), and the Columbus Control Centre (mission control for the European module on the International Space Station).

Lessons learned

Lucie Olson ’18

Olson: “Overall, I learned that space and astronomy is so connected with so many aspects of our daily life. It is hard to summarize all of my thoughts on what I learned, but we did write reflections after we visited every space-related site. …

“I learned how important astronomy was to the early history of clocks and time-keeping. I never thought about how the early clocks operated, or even how they operated now. …

“I learned … that fans are vital for the survival of astronauts in space: since everything is in free-fall in space, including the gases, there is no force pushing away the CO2 that we exhale away from the astronaut. …

“I learned about how space travel affects the human body, like how soft an astronaut’s feet get because they are not using them like they do on Earth, so they don't need to be as hard. …

“[O]ne more fact that I thought was interesting is how the Columbus module (of the International Space Station) got its name because it was supposed to be launched in 1992, about 500 years after Columbus discovered the ‘New World.’

“Really, there were a lot of things that I learned, but mainly they were little facts and tidbits of information about the ISS (International Space Station) and the life of astronauts as they are living in space, like the ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes or that astronauts need to do a lot of exercising to prevent muscle deterioration.”

Reilly Wright '20, explores Stonehenge.

Wright: “I learned more about how politics and science are truly intertwined. Between engineers and researchers communicating with astronauts in the International Space Station or corporate employees in public relations, they all play a role in the workings of a space agency.

“It was so great to see that first-hand and how people and countries have to work together in order to make progress. I really loved how one week we read about the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Probe and the next we met engineers who actually designed it.”

Trip highlights

Olson: “It's hard to choose my favorite moment out of so many, but I would have to say that visiting the Columbus Control Centre was my favorite because we actually got to see real space exploration in action. We got to see live footage of the astronauts in the International Space Station! So cool!”

Wright: “I really enjoyed touring the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. We saw astronaut-training equipment, capsules, and engineer-operation rooms. As amazing as it was to see first-hand how everything works, I loved talking to one of our guides who worked in corporate communications for the German space agency.”

Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan

Olson: “I chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan University because it was a good distance away from home, the class sizes were small and would allow for more attention and help from teachers, and because of the school's emphasis on traveling abroad to enhance learning.”

Wright: “I grew up right beside OWU my entire life, so I never really considered it as my future college. But by just being in the Delaware community, I met some OWU faculty in communication and journalism, so I looked into the academic and extracurricular opportunities. I felt at home on campus and figured even if I’m so close to my childhood home, I have so many more opportunities to get away by traveling with The OWU Connection.”

My plans after graduation

Olson: “I have been accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and will begin teaching English in Japan in August of this year.”

Wright: “I don’t have any solid plans, but I would love to work in media and digital content with small businesses.”

*In addition to Olson and Wright, students traveling abroad with the Travel-Learning Course were Emily Ehrhart ’20, Nicole White ’18, Guillo Gutierrez ’18, Zoe Rosenthal ’18, Dexter Allen ’21, Julia Anne Caple ’20, Gracie Clevenger ’21, Amanda Jewell ’20, Alec Martin ’19, Sami Bates ’20, and Haley Talbot-Wendlandt ’18.