An excited group of Greek students from Byron College departed for Orlando in the USA earlier this month and have returned home with a lifetime of memories from their international school travel experience. The action packed tour included meeting and greeting an astronaut, an in-depth tour of Universal Studios, visiting Cocoa Beach and heaps more! The trip was described as ‘Just unbelievable’ by teacher Panagiotas Kostopoulos, with both students and teachers naming Kennedy Space Center as the absolute trip highlight!
Once the students arrived in Orlando they were met by local EA School Tour guide Christina Bell who remained with the group for the duration of their trip. Christina escorted Byron College to the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park on day two, where students experienced the ‘Behind the Adventure’ science and technology themed tour which is part of Universal’s educational programme. Islands of Adventure was put together by Steven Spielberg and offers the most thrilling and technologically advanced rides and attractions ever made at Universal Studios. On day three it was off to Kennedy Space Center to enjoy an educational program exploring NASA and interacting with shows and exhibits.
Students could view the ten-story high rockets from all eras of space exploration in the Rocket Garden, as well as see the full-size space shuttle mock-up. They watched 3D-IMAX space films on a gigantic five-story screen and saw the Gemini program capsule on display. The amazing exhibits and inspiring shows immersed Byron students into the past, present and future of the NASA space program and when asked if they would like to do this tour in the future, Mr. Kostopoulos said he would 'like to experience the whole trip again'.
Before returning to their accommodation after their busy day at Kennedy Space Center, students had late lunch with a working Astronaut which gave them the one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet a member of NASA’s Astronaut Corps. Students asked as many questions as they could and walked away with a personalised signed autograph from their astronaut meeting. The day didn't end there though with a professional basketball match between the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic for students to enjoy in the evening.
The following day students spent the morning feeling like astronauts in training back at the Kennedy Space Center, taking part in the Space Explorers Adventure programme, before heading off for a relaxing afternoon at the world famous Cocoa Beach.
On day five there were more educational and fun filled activities for students to take part in at Universal Studios where they went behind the scenes and beyond the screens to discover how some of the favourite TV shows and movies have been bought to life. The motto of Universal Studios is ‘ride the movies’ and that’s definitely what they were doing as they enjoyed the park rollercoasters, shows and characters.
The next day it was time for students and teachers to wake up and pack their bags before heading out to I-Fly Orlando to experience zero gravity. During the physics and freefall workshop students enjoyed a 40 minute lecture taught by an accredited physics professor on the physics of freefall and the technology behind the wind tunnel, followed by Q&A session and an exam. Everyone left this class educated and exhilarated after experiencing a one minute freefall in a state of the art vertical wind tunnel - with wind speeds of 130 to 175+ mph!
Our flight back home was a bit long but we all arrived safe and full of great memories! We all had a great time and I would like to thank you very much for helping me to make this happen!! Christina was lovely and helped us with anything we asked for. We could not have a better guide with us!!!
Dedousis Haris - Teacher, Byron College
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