Another Space Camp Dispatch
From City College math teacher Luis Lima, one of the 33 area teachers participating in the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy program in Huntsville, Ala., this week:
I can’t tell you how much fun this has been. Just to give you a short run, I played with toys in space, landed an egg on Mars, launched an engine rocket, helped air traffic control teach math, trained for a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station, walked on the moon, and spun around out of control.
My team, Team Destiny, is awesome! There are educators from all over the U.S., and Canada, the Philippines and, yours truly, Brazil. We had a full day of activities, beginning with the Toys in Space Workshop. Not only were there lots of neat ideas on how to use regular toys to represent laws of physics and gravity, but we also got to make our own. It’s super interesting to watch Team Destiny work together to complete the assignments, document the whole experience and have fun.
After a quick break, we all went to Mars - or had a quick fly by some interesting activities and projects we can use. I learned a lot about Mars and again worked in a small group to design and build a spacecraft to safely land a chicken egg on the Red Planet. To land an egg traveling at about 250 mph whole was a lot of work. I believe all the eggs used during this project landed safely. It was not the landing of the eagle, but the next best thing.
Engine Rocket Launch followed our lunch break. Fifteen model rockets flew off into the summer skies of Alabama, where the weather is a lot like my hometown of Rio de Janeiro than I thought possible. My engine did not fly - lots of smoke but no take-off! I was told it happens. I was happy to see that the parachute assembly worked as designed, but the whole thing remained attached to the launching pad. It was a little frustrating until I remembered that at least the engine was not devoured by the rocket-eating trees around the launching field. I watched 15 successful launches. And I had a few ideas on how to use rockets in my math classes this fall.
Another workshop today was on how to use aeronautics to teach math ... airplanes and flights. It must have been my lucky day: how to use the math behind air travel and some cool Web sites to bring it all together. It was quite cool to me.
After dinner we went to the simulator to train for our second mission. I was assigned the role of mission control scientist. If all the anomalies work, I’ll have a good time helping the astronauts on the space station overcome some difficulties and complete some experiments along the way. I hope theirs are as cool as the ones I did on the previous mission. The simulator, if you are not familiar with it, is a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment that allows us to experience a complete mission on the space shuttle from Earth to the International Space Station and back. Think about a 20-player LAN party with lots of action and multiple rooms connected by live audio and video. Pretty cool! There is nothing on game consoles that comes close to it yet. Two hours is not enough to explore it all. Our mission takes off tomorrow ... wish me luck! We may have problems landing on the runway.
It was way past 7 p.m. when we walked into the Astronaut Sim room. The Moon Walk was very cool and I wish I could have done it again. Bouncing around the surface of the moon like Neil Armstrong was very interesting. The best part was going for a spin on the chair. Awesome!
This has been a great experience and I am more than happy to be here. I’m learning a lot, having lots of fun, and meeting an awesome group of smart people who love to teach. I hope more teachers and students can take advantage of this program. Many thanks. Over and out.