For many, going to NASA is simply a dream. But for two Hawke's Bay students and a teacher, it has become a reality.

On Monday, 165 young women, including Iona college year 8 student Mia Holt and year 12 student Zillah Daysh, jetted off to the United States for 14 days, as part of the CASE Space School expedition to NASA.

Although all students will be spending the majority of their time in Houston, Texas at the Johnson Space Center, they are split into two camps; the junior space school for years 8-10 and the senior space school for years 11-13.

The junior girls, will also spend a week in Huntsville, Alabama, the home of the US Space and Rocket Center, where they will complete their "astronaut training" and participate in astronaut training simulations and various space missions in their teams.


At 13 years-old, Mia was "really excited" to embark on her first trip to America. However, despite what many might think, it was pretty easy to convince her mum to let her go, noting, "I think she just wants me to have a good experience".

"I signed up because I have always been really interested in space and I wanted to actually not just see pictures, but to be in the moment."

She was most looking forward to meeting "the artistic astronaut" Nicole Scott who was the first person to produce a water colour painting in space.

"One day, I hope to achieve my goal which is to work at NASA. It's quite an extravagant goal, but I think with all the learning and experience that I will get, it definitely will help."

16-year-old Zillah has always loved space and anything to do with science in general.

"I think it's how we don't know much about what's out there. There is so much that is undiscovered."

With her last year of high school just around the corner, she thought it would be the perfect opportunity to see if this was the career path she wanted.

Napier Girls' High School head of learning (science), Philipp Otto, has a vested interest in bringing more STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) opportunities to his students and will be joining the senior camp.

He has taught science (chemistry, physics and Earth and Space Science) at NGHS for 18 years, after spending six years teaching at schools in Germany and France.

"I view science as a generational vehicle as well. We need to pass on the passion for science and the habit of curiosity to the next generation to make future discoveries which will have beneficial impacts on our lives. It is a legacy in a way."

Actura New Zealand business development manager Tegan Morrell said on a global scale, there is a big focus for schools, universities and businesses to get more women into STEM careers, or take on STEAM subjects.

"STEAM skills are considered vital for 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations and this is why the Space School program was created. These young ladies, attending Space School in December, are some of the brightest young minds in the country," Morrell said.