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For a bunch of eighth-graders, Fish & Richardson is like Santa Claus and Dumbledore rolled into one. That’s because the intellectual property firm gave the kids a chance to be astronauts for a week. It sent 18 students — including three from Atherton’s Selby Lane Air and Space Science Technology Magnet School — to space camp in Huntsville, Ala., last month. They got a crash course in how to navigate a space shuttle and ran their own simulated missions. During the program they also built water rockets, experienced zero gravity and extra-gravity (G-force), met astronauts and heard a series of lectures on everything from colonizing mars to hydroponics. An attorney in Fish & Richardson’s Minneapolis office came up with the idea of sending kids to the camp as a way to encourage their interest in science. The Boston-based firm began the program three years ago, but this year was the first time the Silicon Valley office sent a group. Students at Selby Lane — who were then seventh-graders — filled out applications to attend the camp. Their teachers chose a group of finalists, who were then interviewed by six Fish & Richardson attorneys. The firm chose the winners based on their interest in the camp and science. “Some day these kids may become great innovators, scientists, astronauts or even IP lawyers and trace their calling to that spark of interest generated by the Fish & Richardson space camp scholarship,” said David Miclean, a partner at Fish & Richardson’s Redwood City office. While the firm chose Selby Lane because of its focus on science and technology, they later learned that Miclean is a former Selby Lane student. Selby Lane students Himeka Hagiwara, Daniel Elsa and Diego Maciel told the firm about their adventure at a luncheon last week. Wearing their bright blue space suits, they described the assignments they had for each mission and their camp experiences. While the kids went to camp a month ago, “it was like yesterday for them,” said Carolyn Williams, Selby Lane’s assistant principal. “You know it made an impression when they can recite minute by minute what they did in August.” Hagiwara, 13, said that the most fascinating part of camp was doing the mission and experiencing “what astronauts really do.” In one mission she was the launch and landing director and in another she conducted experiments in the orbiter. “We had to stay on a time line and had to look at the clock,” Hagiwara said. “There’s a lot of chaos on the head set. Only the cap-com — capsule communicator — could talk to us.” As to what she wants to do when she grows up, Hagiwara said “probably something in science. I really like science.”

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