Math teacher's Space Camp report
From Hereford Middle School math teacher Rachel Murphy, one of the 33 area teachers participating in the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy program in Huntsville, Ala., this week:
Wow, where do I start? I will try my best to fill you in on all the amazing things we have been doing while at Space Camp. First let me say that I did not realize that Honeywell employees actually pay with their own money for our scholarships, so thank you to those employees who provided me with this experience. So far, this has been the greatest professional development that I have ever participated in. Saturday when we arrived, there were no scheduled activities planned, but a bus was provided to go to a local “mall” (I would compare it to the avenues at White Marsh and Hunt Valley back home). It was very upscale, and beautiful, and included a canal with gondola rides. I ate dinner with five others from Maryland and two other teachers, one from Delaware and one from Tampa. It was fun getting to know the other teachers in a laid-back and social setting.
Sunday morning we were up and running early in the morning (7:30). I met my teammates - Team Destiny. I’m not sure what the other bloggers have been saying, but I have to say that we are the best team! There are 18 of us, six from Maryland. Other states and countries represented include England, Canada, Delaware, Texas, Utah, Pennsylvania and California. We bonded quickly through a few team-building activities. Throughout the day we took a tour of the museum, learned the ins and outs of how NASA builds and launches their shuttle missions, as well as more about the Honeywell Corp. My favorite part of the day was building a bottle rocket. I have never seen a 2-liter bottle of soda go that high before! We ended the “scheduled” activities around 8 p.m., but hung out with each other for a few more hours before we called it a night. They were not kidding when they said they send us home tired!
Monday, again we were up bright and early. We completed our first shuttle mission. I was an EVA on the International Space Station and got to build a tower “in space.” That was awesome! Once I return, you will be able to see some pics and video of my mission. In addition to our first mission, we participated in another rocket-building event (they were launched today - super cool!), and listened to a presentation from Ed Buckbee, who was selected by rocket scientist Wernher von Braun to start the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum and started space camps. He had many fun and inside stories to tell about the “good old days” of NASA.
Tuesday morning, we were wakened by a great surprise: a fire alarm going off at 6:15! We all filed out of the dorms in our PJs - some were in the shower when it went off. Some of the activities we did today included making toys in space, and learning how to incorporate space and flight into middle school math. This was exciting to me, since this is what I teach! So my little lovelies - if you are reading this, you have something to look forward to when you return to school in the fall. I can’t wait to use some of the ideas I learned.
The final activity we completed today was something I have been waiting to do since I applied to Space Camp, which were the mission apparatus. We got to “walk on the moon” and go in the MAT, which is that contraption you see people spinning around in all directions. It was so fun! Better than any roller coaster ride!
As I wrap up this blog, I have to say that on top of the overall experience of being here, I think it is just so refreshing to be in a professional setting where everyone wants to be here, learn how they can motivate their kids to be more interested in STEM subjects, and learn new ways to implement lessons in the classroom. Everyone is so willing to share their ideas. I am so grateful for this experience.