MCLEAN, Va. - For many, “getting away” means visiting the beach or an urban locale, but soon, there may be another popular destination: space. As the first hospitality brand to participate in research aboard the International Space Station (ISS), DoubleTree by Hilton, together with Scholastic, invited 50,000 middle school classrooms around the United States to participate in its Opening Doors in Space educational program and contest, which encouraged students to think creatively about how to innovate long-duration space travel to make it more comfortable and hospitable. The hospitality brand developed the educational program and contest to complement its successful efforts surrounding the famous DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies becoming the first food baked in space.
The contest, which took place during the fall of 2019, received close to 3,000 submissions from middle school students across the country. Alayna Broome, an eighth grade student at Grand Blanc East Middle School in Grand Blanc Township, Michigan, earned the grand prize award for her submission, which detailed a space garden that functions as a sustainable food source, as well as serves as a symbol of comfort to make travelers feel at home, no matter where they are.
In addition to prizes delivered to Alayna and her science teacher, Angela Bussinger, DoubleTree by Hilton, Scholastic and Nanoracks treated Grand Blanc East Middle School to an out-of-this-world surprise: on Feb. 19, more than 300 eighth grade students had the opportunity to have a video call with NASA Astronaut Dr. Jessica Meir, who is currently aboard the ISS, and ask questions about the recent DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie baking experiment, life aboard the ISS and what she predicts the future holds for space travel.
“Our students, local officials and teachers—myself included—were thrilled for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak to an astronaut in space,” said Bussinger. “This event underscored our ongoing efforts to encourage our students—the next generation—to engage with STEM subjects in school and throughout their lives. They left the experience elated and filled with possibility, and we are all honored to have been a part of this incredible event.”
Joining the school’s students, staff and principal was Superintendent Clarence Garner and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Trevor Alward of Grand Blanc Schools, as well as Grand Blanc Board of Education members Yasmeen Youngs and Meredith Anderson. Additional attendees included City of Grand Blanc Councilman John Creasey and Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, who asked Dr. Meir a question and shared praises and words of encouragement with the students. Photos of the event can be viewed here.
“The future depends on resilient and thriving societies—on Earth or in space,” said Shawn McAteer, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton. “With space travel on the frontier, we hope this program encourages the next generation of travelers to explore careers in hospitality and positively impact communities and the environment. We are inspired by bright young minds like Alayna, as we continue our journey to redefine sustainable travel through our Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals.”
Student submissions to the Opening Doors in Space contest reflected a wide range of creativity and critical thinking as students considered the impact of microgravity, resource efficiency and the complexities of communicating with Earth. Submissions were judged based on the proposed innovation’s originality, creativity, effectiveness, clarity of message and overall quality. Runner-up Raine C., an eighth-grade student from Hawaii, received a science prize pack for her proposed space hotel that spins to create Earth-like gravity and boasts comfortable guest rooms, a fitness center and VIP rooms for hotel team members.
Learn more about the DoubleTree by Hilton and Scholastic joint initiative, as well as the hospitality brand’s historic baking experiment by visiting www.newsroom.hilton.com/cookiesinspace and www.cookiesinspace.com.
To learn more about Scholastic, visit its media room at: mediaroom.scholastic.com.
Nanoracks LLC, an XO Markets company, is the world’s leading commercial space station company. Nanoracks believes commercial space utilization will enable innovation through in-space manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, fiber optics – and more, allow for transformational Earth observation, and make space a key player in finding the solution to Earth’s problems.
Today, the company offers low-cost, high-quality solutions to the most pressing needs for satellite deployment, basic and educational research, and more –in over 30 nations worldwide. Since 2009, Texas-based Nanoracks has truly created new markets and ushered in a new era of in-space-services, dedicated to making space just another place to do business.
Hilton is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 22 world-class brands comprising more than 7,500 properties and nearly 1.2 million rooms, in 126 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed over 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, was named the No. 1 World’s Best Workplace by Great Place to Work and Fortune and has been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for seven consecutive years. Hilton has introduced industry-leading technology enhancements to improve the guest experience, including Digital Key Share, automated complimentary room upgrades and the ability to book confirmed connecting rooms. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the more than 180 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can't buy. With the free Hilton Honors app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit stories.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
About DoubleTree by Hilton
DoubleTree by Hilton is a fast-growing, global portfolio of nearly 680 hotels with more than 150,000 rooms across 55 countries and territories. For more than 50 years, DoubleTree by Hilton has continued to be a symbol of comfort for business and leisure travelers around the world, from welcoming guests with its signature, warm DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie, to serving the local community. DoubleTree by Hilton offers contemporary accommodations and amenities, including unique food and beverage experiences, state-of-the-art fitness offerings and meetings and events spaces. Experience a positive stay at DoubleTree by Hilton by booking at doubletree.com or through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits. Learn more about DoubleTree by Hilton at stories.hilton.com/doubletree, and follow the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.