Thursday, August 2, 2018

Go for Launch

Me in my flight suit
This summer, I lived out my childhood fantasy of attending Space Camp. While most people think of Space Camp as a prize for childhood game shows, they also host a series of Space Academy for Educator programs every summer.

Saturn V on Display
Space Camp is everything I imagined and more. Hosted in Huntsville, Alabama at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. If the camp program wasn't amazing, the museums were. Tucked away in Alabama are some of the most historical NASA items I've ever seen. Some of the amazing artifacts on display included the Apollo 16 capsule, the Mobile Quarantine Facility (Airstream trailer) from Apollo 11, a Saturn V rocket, and more.

Throughout the week, we had a combination of lectures, engineering challenges, and time to speak with other teachers about best practices for the classrooms. I highly recommend looking into the program for any teachers looking for an out of the world experience. I funded my tuition through but I also know that there are other scholarship programs available. Honeywell sends hundreds of teachers each year to specialty sponsored weeks.
Homer H. Hickam Jr. Launch Pad
My favorite lecture of the week was meeting one of my childhood idols, Homer Hickam. His memoir, Rocket Boys, became the movie October Sky. That's right, I met the man who inspired my love of model rocketry and got to launch a model rocket from the official Homer Hickam launch pad. When I asked him what advice he'd give to students that are interested in rocketry, he said he'd give the same advice his mother gave him when he expressed his interest in rocket science, "Don't blow yourself up."
Posing with Homer Hickam
While many of us have done egg drops with students over the years, Space Camp showed me another amazing egg-stranut experiment to complete with students: creating a heat shield. I think one of the most interesting aspects of each engineering challenge we completed was that they didn't ignore the cost of supplies. For each project we were given a fictional budget and supply cost list. Part of the scoring rubric included project cost and success of protecting the egg. I love the cross curriculum involvement here because it opens up projects to more classrooms and subject areas.

Helicopter Crash Simulator and Zip-line
The final aspect of Space Academy was the physical challenges. From team building activities at Area 51 to simulated crashes at the lake, we experienced it all. I even served as mission control for a mission to Mars. I found the entire week to be non-stop excitement and learning and had a great time.