Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Life ASC (after space camp)

Is it weird that we think of our teaching careers in two sections... one before our experience at space camp and one after. Everyone asks the same question, 'How was it?'. The only way to answer is AWESOME. Then about a million things rush through your brain. It is hard to describe the best professional development of your life in just a couple of minutes.

So I am getting ready to welcome my students back in my classroom tomorrow and the first thing I will tell them about is my space camp experience. I am entitling my little presentation, What I learned at Space Camp. So I will share some of that information with you.

1. I learned that this universe is so much bigger than my little part of the planet. Of course I knew that on a big scale, but I learned that from my teammates as well. We had a team of people from all over the world. I found myself not only wanting to know what they taught and where they were from, but I wanted to know things about their classrooms, their lives, and their countries. I found this true of the people from the US too. We were all teachers, but we were so different, yet the same! I don't know if that makes any sense at all?! We were all there for the love of science and the love of our students. It was fun getting to know these people that came to be part of our team. And through the magic of social media, I will continue to keep up with them in their lives!

2. I learned about teamwork! Everything we did, we did together. Some things were as a whole team and some things were in smaller groups. This is not always easy. As a teacher, I ask my students to work together frequently and forget how hard it is! It is give and take. Compromise! Personalities differ. One of the most important days was the day we did the ropes course. We had to work together and lean on each others strengths. It brought our team together closer then we were the day before. I will remember this in the classroom. Team building is an important time for building relationships and trust between students. 

3. I learned to: make a rocket, make a heat shield, make a moon lander, set up a moon colony, and extract DNA! Some of the coolest things we did were the hands on experiments and simulations. I do some things in my class when I teach my space unit, but NASA has provided me with so much more for my space tool kit. These things are hands on, hit multiple learning styles, and are straight up COOL! Not only that, but the learning library was a wealth of information that I didn't know existed. I can't wait to document and do these things with my gifted students!

4. I learned to be more confident. At first I was a little afraid to speak up and hesitant during missions and simulations. I started thinking about astronauts. They can't be timid. They can't be shy. Mr. Ed Buckbee was telling us about the original 7 astronauts and how confident they were. There were no second guesses in space. You have to trust your instinct and trust yourself. I am getting there as a teacher. I have a lot to offer and I want to learn! When I was the communications specialist on our mission, if there was a problem, I had to solve it and be confident in my answers. When we were in the final minutes of our mission, the lander had an issue and I had seconds to solve it or they would crash. I am happy to report, that we had a successful mission and they landed successfully. I trusted myself and I did a great job!!! I am pretty proud of myself. 

5. I am thankful. I could have never done this if it wasn't for the support of my family. My husband took on taking care of the kids so I could travel. My dad, his wife, my father in law and sister and law all watched the kids too. This wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for their help. I am thankful for my friend and partner in crime, Tackett. It was so much more fun and meaningful to have her there. We were blessed to be able to experience this together as educators, friends, and colleagues. I am thankful to Honeywell and their employees for this opportunity of a lifetime. I hope to inspire my students with the tools that I have gained and to help them to learn and love science like I do! 

6. YOLO! Ok, I know that sounds lame and the people around us were sick of us yelling out this phrase over and over. But you do only live once. I did everything I could at space camp. Even when I didn't want to. Like the dropping ride. I hate those but... YOLO. You have to take life as it comes and make the most of a chance when it presents itself. I might use this phrase in the classroom too... :) 

So there you go. Just a few of the things I learned at space camp. I am teaching my space unit to my 2nd/3rd grade gifted students this year and might through in a couple things for my older students too. I will continue to live my teaching life ASC and put these tools I have learned to good use. YOLO people!!!

This is Kelly...
Over and out! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 5- Sweet Home Alabama

Day Five at Space Camp was full of amazing lesson plans and tears! We started our day by extracting some DNA from various fruits, including strawberries, kiwis, and peaches! Kelly and I have participated in several DNA extraction labs, so this was pretty much review for us. However, we had a fun time squishing our fruits and extracting their precious DNA.

Afterwards, we had a twist on the famous "Egg Drop Lab" that many science teachers use in their classrooms. For this lab, we had to construct a device to protect our egg from cracking during a two story fall (with limited materials) into a specific landing site. In addition, we had to build a rover that would move our egg down a ramp. For every inch your rover traveled, your team earned points, and for every inch away from the landing site your device landed, you lost points. This was a great twist to this lab, and we definitely plan on implementing this lab in our classrooms! Our device ended up winning out of everyone's! We named it...IDK (since we didn't know what to call our spectacular contraption).

Then, we headed to complete a water purification lab. This lab required us to build a water filter (again, using limited materials and a limited budget) that would filter water from a pitcher that had many "impurities." (They never disclosed what was in the water, but it smelled like vinegar, green food coloring, glitter, and several other strange items). We had an hour to build our filter, and during this lab we discussed how astronauts have to filter their urine and water while in space. By this point in the day, we were exhausted. Some groups drank their water after it was "filtered," but we just didn't have the energy!

After our labs, we headed to the Astronaut Simulators. We were able to participate in the Multi-Axis simulator (the one that spins you around and around) and the 1/6 gravity chair, which allows you to jump and move as if you were on the moon. These simulators were so much fun, and I especially loved the feeling of weightlessness from the gravity chair! We only got to participate in each simulator one time since there were so many people, but we could have done it over and over again!

After the simulators, we headed to graduation. Each of us were given a diploma and our wings. We were also given the "rip and flip" of our name tags, turning them right-side-up to indicate that we were indeed Space Camp graduates. It was kind of emotional, as we knew our journey at Space Camp was coming to an end. I don't think it really hit us until that point that we were leaving the next morning. :(

After graduation, Honeywell threw us an amazing party! It was sort of like a wedding reception, with a band, a DJ, and tons of food and goodies! We got to dance to our favorite songs ("Sweet Home Alabama" and "Teach Me How to Dougie" being the big hits of the night) and  spend our last evening with our friends.

After the party, we went out to a local restaurant with several of our Team Zarya teammates to spend more time together. We really didn't want the experience to end. :(

The next morning, we sadly packed up our room and went to the airport with our friend Even. I was actually thankful our flight was delayed so we had more time to chat with him! Who wishes for their flight to be delayed except for teachers leaving Space Camp?! :)

Overall, I think what we'll take away most from this experience are the unbelievable friendships we've made. We've met so many amazing teachers from all over the world. Having professional dialogue together, working as a team, and sharing our love for teaching has truly made Space Camp the most effective professional development experience ever. Thank you Honeywell for choosing us to participate in this unforgettable experience!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 4: Follow in the steps of Apollo!

We are on to day 4 of our Space Camp adventure. We started the day with some free/exploration time. Of course this started in the gift shop. We actually got someone to open the gift shop early for us today. She was a former teacher and saw us eyeing some items from outside. She let us in and let us buy. We couldn't help but try on these 'space'tastic sunglasses! 

Everyone has been telling us about this movie A Smile as Big as the Moon. Kelly has never seen it, but it is on her list of movies to see before the summer is out.

There is a pretty cool exhibit of all of the different planets and they are placed in their relative distance from the sun. It talks a little about each planet and shows the size compared to the sun also. Tackett's favorite planet is Uranus. :) She likes to let her inner middle schooler come out when she discusses the planet!

Kelly's favorite planet is Mars. Do you like the visit Mars shirt? She likes it because it is like earth but older and wiser. She hopes that in her lifetime humans will set foot on Mars. 

While exploring more of the rocket center, we passed the G force accelerator. It brought back memories of the inner ear problems that it gave Tackett just days before. It even said it on the sign, but we didn't pay any attention at the time. After all... we were determined to try EVERYTHING at camp that week. So note to future Space Camp attendees, if you have inner ear issues, don't ride this ride!

We also had time to check out the Black Hole Adventure in one of the museums. You started this exhibit with a card that you plugged into different areas around the exhibit. It showed you a lot of information about black holes that was integrated with hands on exhibits and technology. At the end you could send an e-card from a black hole to someone you know. Very educational!

After lunch, we had our lunar base challenge. We were a team of 5 with Jersey, Chelsea and Auriole. Our job was to purchase items to build a portion of a lunar base camp. We had a budget and had models that we  would choose from. Our portion of the base was about the exploration of the moons surface. We had to 'sell' our ideas to people with a poster and presentation. Both items are below. Tackett didn't want the presentation on here... but too bad! She did an awesome job as our information host. Auriole was our agreeable co-host and Chelsea was our NASA expert. Jersey acted fantastically as our volunteer. Kelly was the camera woman!

Here is pic of our poster:

Here is our presentation:

We went off to the Saturn V Rocket to take our team picture. We couldn't help but add some more of our pictures! We are laying on the moon under the nose of the rocket. 

Our dad, Jeff, wanted to get in our pic!

Here is Team Zarya! What an awesome team!

We stayed in our space suits because we were ready for our Orion Mission! We had different jobs and different objectives for this mission. Tackett was in the Space Station on the moon at first performing some experiments with her team: Salvador, Dilek, and Christine. They had to complete the experiments and report on the data.

There was also a relief crew on their way to send them back to Earth. After all, they had been on the moon for months doing different research! So they switched it up and hopped on the shuttle to head home. 

Here they are in the shuttle. Jeff was the commander of the shuttle to switch the crews. He did a great job as commander! Even was his partner in crime. They communicated directly with Kelly the whole mission because...

Kelly's job was Communications officer, also known as Capcom. It was almost like we had switched roles from our last mission! Her job was to directly communicate with the shuttle Orion. It was pretty intense trying to stay on cue and to speak all the space lingo. But after a while, it was second nature. We had a successful mission and hit all of our objectives: switch the crews, obtain data from experiments, and land the shuttle Orion back on Earth! Mission accomplished!!!


The last part of the day was spent over in the camp of the Aviation Challenge. This is a separate camp from Space Camp that hosts a military style camp for kids. It was a little intense to see the kids being treated like air force trainees! 

So why were we over here? For more simulators!!! Here we were going to crash into the water like a crash landing and we were going to get to zip line too! 

Here is the zip line we were going to drop from. It was 3 stories up! When we got there, it was a little intimidating! But we were sticking with our space camp motto of YOLO (you only live one). This is a phrase that we learned from teaching at the middle school level. Sorry if we annoyed anyone by yelling it out most of the time we were at camp. :)

Another shot of Tackett and Even. We loved exchanging stories about our cultures and teaching in China and the US.

The first simulator that we got to experience was the splash down tube! We were loaded into it in teams of 6 and splashed down in a crash situation. We had to swim out the windows to safety. We got to do this a few times while we were waiting to zip line. Each time we had different handicaps. One of the times Kelly lost an arm and leg and had to be helped. Tackett lost both legs and had to swim only using her arms! It was a blast crashing into the water. :)

The last simulator was the zip line. It was quite amusing getting ready to go up. We had to get strapped into harnesses. We were laughing at each other while we tugged at the straps to make sure we were safe. We also dawned helmets to keep our noggins safe! 

We went up one at a time. Making the 3 story climb was kind of scary! Especially in the dark. The guys at the top who hooked us up were really nice and reassuring. You were hooked up backwards so you weren't looking down. They told us they were studying to be pilots in the Air Force, so I guess we trusted them a little. Then it was time to zip on down. 

Here is Tackett going down:

Here is Kelly going down:

It was another amazing experience. We were exhausted after this day! It was a 15 hour day full of AWESOMENESS!!! 

We were pretty sad to see this list though. This was our arrangements to head back home in just one day. :( It was hard to believe our experience was coming to an end. We had one more day with our new friends. 

Kelly & Tackett,
Over and out. :(