Students learned through discovery during a field trip to Brownsburg's Challenger Learning Center.
The field trip allowed students to "play astronaut" for a day. Students simulated a mock mission to Mars.
The traveled through space, helped navigate their peers, used technology, math and science to problem solve and probe celestial bodies to discover their chemical make-up.
"I had a lot of fun. I learned how to communicate and explain things to others more effectively. I got along with my teammates and got to meet and develop relationships with people I usually never talk to," eighth-grader Emily Conrad said.
Science teacher Glen Gill said the objective is to improve communication skills, develop problem-solving skills and give them a chance to work with others they don't normally work with.
"This trip gives them (the students) a chance to experience something they may never get a chance to do again," Gill said. "My hope is that it inspires some of them to seek careers in a scientific field."
Gill and fellow science teacher Rick Rosner have been taking students to the Challenge Learning Center for 16 years.
"He (Gill) definitely made sure it (the trip) was about the fun, but it was also educational," eighth-grader Gabby Christie said.
Students who participated in the field trip have maintained satisfactory grades, didn't receive any disciplinary actions, received parental permission and submitted an application for the program.
In addition, the students had to attend five preparation sessions after school. Each session lasted about an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
During the after school sessions, the students worked on developing the skills they would use during their mission. The students also took away knowledge from watching films like "Apollo 13."
It was these skills that helped students to test chemicals and give complex explanations telling their peers who to get through the obstacles they encountered on the mission.
"We learned to take instructions. We really had to listen," Christie said. "We had to have good judgment, but you still had to take risks."
Students acted out a scenario where two shuttles were trying to reach the same location. The first shuttle arrived safely on Mars' surface. There were seven teams of two-six students.
"We were working the whole time and if we didn't understand something, Mr. Gill and Mr. Rosner were right there to help us," Conrad said. "We knew it would be fun, but everyone enjoyed it and tried their best."
Students in the first shuttle had to use microphone headsets to communicate with the second shuttle. They had to give their peers specific instructions to help navigate their peers to safety.
Only one shuttle could see the computer controls and only one shuttle could control the spacecraft.
"We did have a successful mission," Christie said. "It gave us a lot of responsibility. We felt like grown-ups."
Normally, North Clay only takes one group of 32 students. However, this year, Gill received 72 applicants and took 64 students in total.
There will be a second group of eighth-graders going to the learning center April 28.