Herrick science teacher Jill Henry had an out-of-this-world experience this
As one of just 185 educators chosen from around the world to attend this year’s
Honeywell-sponsored "Educators @ Space Camp" program in Huntsville, AL, in June, Henry got to participate in a variety of hands-on educational experiences. These included two simulated shuttle missions; building and launching model rockets; going down a 30-foot zipline; learning about advances in biotechnology and extracting DNA from fruit; participating in team-building activities; and tackling several engineering-type projects that can be used in the classroom.
“The experience was one of the most memorable professional development
experiences of my career so far. Everyone I met was so passionate about what they do,” Henry said. “It was inspiring to meet teachers from all over the world, and the team of teachers I worked with worked so well together. We encouraged each other and were able to meet all of the challenges that we were given. It was great to collaborate with other teachers and share different ideas that we can take back to our classrooms.”
Henry’s time at Space Camp will directly benefit her science students, as NASA
provided the participants with just a sample of the wide range of lesson plans and activities developed by its education department that teachers can use in the classroom.
NASA-based activities Henry is planning for this year include building an inexpensive star lab for students to go inside and create their own constellations, and teaching about biotechnology and extracting DNA from fruit.
Henry said the most important ideas she took away from her experience were
the emphasis on the 21st century learner and the importance of STEM (science,
technology, engineering, and math) education.
“Teaching the 21st century learner involves developing activities that encourage
critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. I feel it is necessary to encourage the development of those skills to help prepare our students for the careers of the future that might not even exist yet,” Henry said. “I also plan on encouraging my students to attend any of programs that the Space Camp offers for students. I was inspired by my time there and can see the impact the experience could have on children."
Henry has participated in a variety of other summer educational and research experiences, including a fellowship in the Bahamas with Earthwatch, an expedition to Hawaii sponsored by the National Tropical Botanical Garden and a five-week internship at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
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