Legendary astronaut adapts with new-generation to drones

CULPEPER, Va. — Some grade school students have been spending their
time building drones at Germanna Community College’s Daniel Technology Center.

Wyatt Coughlin, 16, says building a drone was no easy task and that “getting
to build them can be a real pain because it’s so much wiring and everything.”

Friday was the day to let their projects take flight. But if you are going to
“launch” a project, a last-minute class with a former astronaut isn’t a bad
idea.

“I wish I was your age,” says Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin to dozens of school
kids holding their fully built drones, complete with cameras. “We had to use
cement, balsa wood, tissue paper and only one propeller attached to a rubber
band,” he says.

Aldrin came to Culpeper with his Share Space Foundation, to work with kids from
the Orange and Madison County Boys & Girls Clubs and Germanna Scholar Program. His goal is to get kids interested in science, technology,
engineering, arts and math.

Aldrin sat down at tables with the kids, took their questions and watched as
they demonstrated to him what it took to build a drone.

The Apollo 11 astronaut says he has been given an opportunity to have an
impact on people, and he says he “wants to use that as best I can.”

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” 16-year-old Emily Henderliter said about
meeting and working with Aldrin.

Germanna Community College President David Sam said it was a thrill
to meet Aldrin, whom he looked up to as a kid, and that the event helped to reach middle school and high school students, “to get them interested in
science and engineering.”

Jay Zitz, 11, of Fredericksburg, wants to be an engineer when he grows up
and was a bit starstruck meeting Aldrin. “I always wanted to see him, got up
close, got to hear him speak,” he says.

After a drone show-and-tell, the kids joined Aldrin outside to watch their
projects take flight.

The 84-year old Aldrin ended the evening encouraging the kids to make science
fun and to consider careers in the field. “You may want to go to Mars or you
may want to help the people; everybody is essential,” he says.

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