Story by Amanda Crane
The sky is the limit when it comes to STEM education.
That’s the outlook two Bossier Parish educators share after unforgettable trips to space camp. Spencer Kiper and Linda Morgan were selected to attend the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy (HESA) at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) in Huntsville, Alabama.
This professional development program, created in partnership with the USSRC, is designed to help middle school math and science teachers from around the world become more effective educators in STEM subjects. Educators are empowered with supplemental teaching techniques through simulated astronaut training and innovative educational tools that help bring science to life in the classroom.
For these Bossier educators, attending space camp was a dream come true.
“This was a career and life changing experience,” Kiper, STEM educator at Elm Grove Middle School, said. “Going somewhere as awesome as the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Morgan, STEM and 8th grade science teacher at Greenacres Middle School, attended in 2013 and Kiper attended just last month. During the five day program, educators participate in 45 hours of intensive classroom, laboratory, and training time, focusing on space science and exploration.
They are separated into teams in order to achieve a multitude of mission objectives, including a lunar and shuttle mission, a ropes course that works on team building skills and an egg drop with a space camp twist. Simulations are not only realistic, but exciting and challenging.
According to its website, more than 1,900 educators from 49 countries and all 50 U.S. States and territories have graduated from the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy since its inception in 2004. Kiper was paired with educators from Russia, the Philippines, Turkey and the United States.
Just from talking to other educators, Kiper said that Bossier Parish is on the right track to bringing higher quality learning opportunities to all students in the school system.
“Through these connections and with help from the teachers that want to see us excel, we are now pursuing things that once seemed impossible,” he said. “The worldwide connections will allow us new opportunities to share resources in our classrooms.”
Morgan, who was paired with educators from China, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland, said she immediately incorporated activities from camp upon returning. More importantly, it renewed her passion for STEM education.
“It’s not just about space education, but for all of science,” she said. “Science is all around us. It’s truly an amazing thing. I can’t reiterate enough how much of a defining moment it is for a science teacher. It was all completely worthwhile.”
Kiper documented his trip on video, which he posted on the Internet with hopes of motivating and inspiring others to attend.
“I want them to see how amazing the experience actually is,” he added. “It’s also a way to say thank you to Honeywell for making this possible.”
Ultimately, Kiper and Morgan said they would like to see more Bossier educators attend the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy.
“We would love to work with more teachers in the future to help them get there,” Kiper said. “We want to create a stronger connection of STEM educators in all local schools.”
Kiper’s videos can be accessed on YouTube. For more information on the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy, visit https://educators.honeywell.com/.