BOUNTIFUL -- Eight-year-old Autumn Gomberg, dressed in her pale-blue Young Astronauts shirt, sat quietly waiting for other students to join her for the Young Astronauts Program at Meadowbrook Elementary School.
She was just a bit early because she no longer attends Meadowbrook. Her family moved, so she is now a student at Muir Elementary School, but she still takes part in the Meadowbrook astronaut program because she loves it.
"It may be one of my favorites," Autumn said.
She began in the program last year, the first year she was old enough to join, and she joined for a very special reason.
"My papa used to work for NASA," Autumn said.
Dressed in a blue astronaut suit, teacher Nancy Frazier welcomed the students and introduced her grandson, Andrew Andreasen, a senior at Woods Cross High School, who actually attended Young Astronauts at Meadowbrook as a child.
It was Andreasen's first time speaking in front of a group, but he wanted to encourage the Young Astronauts to study hard, especially in math and science.
He explained how the program had influenced his life and how he has already chosen his career goal of becoming a surgeon.
Andreasen, like Autumn, left Meadowbrook Elementary when young to attend another elementary school, but came back to be part of the Young Astronauts Program.
When Andreasen entered junior high, he knew he wanted to study as much science as he could because of what he had learned in the after-school program while in elementary school.
He also attended Astro Camp, where, in 2001, his name was put on a microchip and is on the Mars Rover on Mars.
That interest stayed with him into high school, where this year he was named Sterling Scholar in Science for Woods Cross High and placed first in the district science fair with his study on preservatives in vaccines.
"Science quickly became my favorite class. You do things in science you can't do in English class," he said.
"I think this program gets kids interested in math and science. Science affects you on a daily basis -- it's the foundation of what is around you."
He compared computers, cars and space suits from the 1970s with those of today and talked about upcoming new things the students hadn't heard of. Using a PowerPoint presentation, he showed pictures of the old and the new as he explained that science changes the world.
"Science is in pretty much every subject out there," Andreasen said. "When you turn on a TV or a computer, it is science."
Andreasen also encouraged the Young Astronauts to be involved in things outside of class, such as clubs they have an interest in.
"I was in the National Chemistry Olympiad," he said. "It sounds kind of nerdy, but I was one of only 10 in the state."
Fifth-grader TJ Wilson said he has learned a lot while being in the Young Astronauts Program.
"I learned to build rockets. I learned almost everything is around science. I have learned more stuff in life, and that I can learn from my mistakes," TJ said.
He added that he is still too young to know what he is going to do when he grows up.
Frazier was instrumental in beginning the Young Astronauts Program at Meadowbrook. The sixth-grade teachers wanted to start it when the national program began, and they needed someone to lead the younger students, so Frazier did the job.
The program has been at the school for 21 years, and although Frazier is retiring from teaching this spring, other teachers will probably step up and take over the program.
"When we began, it was free, but we wanted to go on field trips, so we had to charge a fee for registration," Frazier said.
She added that, in the 21 years the program has been at the school, participants have launched more than 2,000 rockets.
Sixth-grader Solomon Weaver has been in the program for five years
"I joined because my sister started in it and said it was really fun," he said.
And fourth-grader Carly Merrill said, "I thought it would be fun to learn about space and how to make rockets."
Although this is her first year with the program, she plans to join again next year.
Her friend Emily Bishop has been in Young Astronauts since second grade, and she said the thing she likes best "are the experiments we got to do."
"I want to be a doctor for pets," said Emily, while Carly wants to become a teacher.
Solomon said he has learned a lot being in the program: "I understand space more, and I am going to be in honor science when I go to junior high."