Summer of space

As Kenny Gironda spun, tumbled and rolled around, while alternating between accelerating and slowing down, the people standing nearby became a blur.

Kenny, 14, who was strapped in while standing up, kept his head back and his eyes open so he didn't get nauseous as the Multi-Axis Trainer's three rings spun at once, simulating what it felt like to be in a tumbling space shuttle.

The Huntington Beach resident was awarded a scholarship to SPACE CAMP in Huntsville, Ala., from Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos, where he attended last year. The now-ninth-grader flew across the country by himself at the end of August to spend five days engrossed in all things space — making the summer one of his best ever.

"If I had the opportunity again, I'd take it," he said.

He slept in a rocket-shaped dorm room, learned the country's space history firsthand and got to feel what it was like to bunny hop on the moon. One of the most memorable parts for Kenny, though, was working as a scientist on a mock mission on the International Space Station.

His team of four was working on an experiment, mixing elements together to observe their reactions, when a gas they had created in a bag exploded, causing the mock crew to roar with laughter, Kenny said.

"Everybody was laughing," he said.

Science has always been an interest of Kenny's and has only grown as he has learned more. The vastness of the subject is what interests him, he said.

"You can go in and learn something new and explore that," he said.

He said he is considering studying physics and medicine at Stanford University and hopes the degrees will allow him to experiment on new medicines in space to "help people with disabilities and ailments."

Phil Gironda, Kenny's father, said he supports whatever his son wants to pursue, and part of his and wife Kathy's philosophy is to introduce their children to as many positive opportunities as possible.

"He's pursuing things he loves, and I'm a firm believer that that is how you create a long-lasting success," he said.

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