Category Archives: Space Camp

Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students

Source: Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students

Space Camp is a game changer. As a Teacher, it rejuvenated my career. For students who are visually impaired this could be a great experience. If you know of any student or a Teacher with students of impaired students please pass this along. Especially if you are in the UK.


Here we go….

Well two weeks to go and another year begins at my school. Changes have occurred throughout the school. Not bad changes. Just new changes. Mostly building changes which I know I’m excited about. New science rooms, office, lobby and media room. Yep definitely exciting this year.


science                lobby

Other then the changes in the building we have new faculty and technology this year. Again really exciting.  With cuts across the board in education we are very lucky to have had this plan approved early on. I think this really is the result of our principal and his hard work. Others also played a role in the project, but he was non stop with getting funding and the plans implemented.  Our vice principal and facilities/accountant person were really the ones getting all of this done on time.

So with all this new stuff I now have to think about all the things I learned during the summer experiences. I’m finally getting a chance to digest everything I did this summer. What I have brought back from all my experiences has been an asset to my classroom. Now its looking at how to implement this in the classroom.  I’ve already know that my experience with 2013 Siemens STARs research will fit perfectly in my geology section of class. I’m in the process of putting together a presentation using the pictures and research I did this summer. (see other posts for information) Using research information I can integrate everything into the  geological history and rock cycle sections.  Some of the websites we used during our research were excellent resources for geological history. If you are interested here is a google document with the websites. 

The other experiences will be great for electromagnetic spectrum and meteorology. Where we were at Langley we got a chance to talk to people about lasers and how they were used on satellites. In my other posts you can find all the resources I gained from this experience.  Last experience, Advanced Space Academy for Educators, and this experience showed me how I can overcome my fears with the help of others( go Team Marshall). This will be more of a story to tell students and maybe have them write something about how they have overcame some form of obstacle.

I’ve already decided to start class this year a little different, I ‘m going to continue to use the team building activities I did last year. Because as I found out this summer on all my experiences, collaboration and communication play a major role in real life STEM jobs. So I think this is important for the beginning of school. Plus this is when I put everyone into their groups, randomly.  But after this I’m going to have students do a project on the literacy principles.  Groups will be given two principles in one of the literacy components. I’m hoping to have enough groups to do all the principles so no one group is doing the same.



Ocean Literacy











I’m going to allow my students to choose how they want to present the information. I’ll give them some basics to guide them at the beginning but I want them to pretty much figure it out for themselves and be creative.  I’ll also suggest some tools such as Prezi, WeVideo,  etc.  I would use glogster but it costs money now. Actually I think students could use Microsoft publisher if need be, it would just be saved to a USB and not the cloud. I’ve found that they can pretty much create the similar presentations using word or publisher. I think you get the idea by now. Why am I doing this project is because at the NSTA I didn’t realize how important it is for our students to be aware of the different components of Earth Science and Earth Systems. I mean I knew but just didn’t know there were resources out there to help teach these topics. Plus it fits the Next Generation Standards.

I could go on with all the ideas I have for the beginning of school. But then this post would be a mile long. So I’m going to stop here and continue to discuss all the new classroom tools I obtained this summer in other posts. Since it is the beginning of school , I’m hoping to keep up with everything. So bear with me, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the experiences I had during the summer. I know my PLN really got a boost.Winking smile

And so it Ends..

DSC_0065Before I even get to the last day I need to talk about the Marshall Space Flight Center Tour. We did this on the second day. Things have gone quick, and I tried to keep the entries short. But this tour was pretty cool and thought people might like to see pictures. We got to see the ISS payload operations center control room and visit the Redstone Test Area.  The tour took around the center and we saw different test towers and buildings used during the Apollo missions.





With the little time I have before my next summer experience, I’m trying to catch up. The last day of the Academy was filled with information for classroom. A NASA representative introduced us to the BEST curriculum. I haven’t used this yet but the engineering design packet we used in our Lunar Egg Challenge. It worked great, we did tweak it a bit when we used the rubric.

Our design challenge in the workshop was to build a solar sail, using materials supplied. We did pretty good. There are tons of resources on the NASA website, and BEST has guides for different challenges and age groups. Check out the site to get more information. I’m already thinking about how I can change this around to suit my class. Maybe add some solar panels and integrate with alternative energy topics. Again more resources that can be used to integrate the Next Generation Science Standards in the classroom. NASA always comes through and you can pretty much implement the information in class during any part of the curriculum or find something that will fit.

After this we worked on our mission patch. An awesome treat like always. Honestly it was pretty easy to get everyone to agree on what we wanted on the patch. 14 stars 14 people. Strangers who came together and became friends through challenges, laughter and acceptance. Oh and lets not forgot meals, they were interesting to say the least (LOL).


The day continued with a presentation on the Distance Learning Network that Space Camp was offering. Something new, now you could bring space camp to your classroom or after school activity. Sounds like something I might look into for our Science Festival. We will have to see.

Another resource we obtained was the Design Squads new mission booklet. The book offers resources on NASA missions and challenges. Challenges that are great STEM PBL’s. What’s really great about this resource is that it corresponds to the Next Generation Science Standards. Design Squads has been around for a while, but I believe it will get more popular as the Next Gen standards are implemented.

After a day of PD resources, we went and did some robotics. By this time of the day I will admit that I was a bit fried. But everyone had fun with the competition. We used Lego NXT Mindstorms, what was different is that they used the Kinect to control the Mindstorms. Now we didn’t use this for our exercise instead we used remote controls that looked like they were made for the xbox 360. Pretty Cool. Sorry no pictures completely forgot. I’ll have to look into this and figure out something it looked really cool and would be a great idea for the Science Club. I know the new EV3’s are coming out soon, because I ordered some for robotics.


Next was graduation. Bittersweet, we had made it through everything but were sorry to see it end. It had been an experience I would never trade in the world. Not only did I challenge myself as a person and teacher, I now have tons of information to bring back to the classroom and implement different projects. Scuba diving and the pamper pole will always be in top 10 items on my bucket list. And the people, they made it the best. Now I have new friends and colleagues to get ideas from and share experiences.

Special thanks to all the people at Space Camp for making this a wonderful experience.

Another Day….Another Challenge

That’s what I labeled this day at Advanced Space Academy(I’ve been putting Camp, someone corrected me recently its Academy) for Educators. I know I used that title already but it just seems like we were given some great challenges throughout the week. Similar to day two when we did the scuba diving activity, we had another activity to do. This day would prove just as challenging and rewarding.



We started the day with a tour of Hudson Alpha a Biotech company located in Huntsville. The introduction talk prior to the tour of the facilities proved interesting. Since I really don’t teach biology, I will do my best to explain this experience. First, the introduction went over basic genetic principles and then talked about the wrong way we teach genetics. This was a great discussion and we realized we have a lot to learn about genetics. A good author to read for more information about the topic is Ricki Lewis. This brought up a discussion on how textbooks have gotten some of the information wrong and teachers were teaching some genetics wrong. Interesting and I will have to pass on this topic since I am not expert. If you are reading this right now and have some information you would like to share, use the comment area. They continued to impress us with new applications of genetics. At the end they gave us a CD and book for high school curriculum. We all agreed that the tour and talk were great.

Next on the list was the challenge. In Area 51, ropes course, there is a challenge called the “pamper pole”. Well, there is one thing for sure, I think adults do need to wear “pampers” when doing this, just kidding. It was a challenge though but I did it. I completely ignored everyone and did what I had to do to complete the challenge. Again this is just another great story to tell the students. Overcoming your fears and team building. Great tool to use in class, and a big part of real world. Team building became a really big component of this challenge. Your team were holding the ropes that kept you from falling. Yep, trust was involved here. I can’t wait to show pictures and talk about this in class.


The day ended with our EDM training and mission. We had fun with this, but I hate to say it, I killed our crew. I was too busy getting sick (just a medical anomalies ). Ah well I had a feeling we were going to get slammed with all types of problems on our mission. But overall it was fun and pretty interesting. Tornado, medical emergencies, equipment problems etc.. yep and still had to try and help land the orbiter.


Yep this is me saying my goodbyes to the crew after killing them.

Well the day was long but again we developed our Team building skills and challenged ourselves with various activities. The end of our mission was coming, we had our last day on Wednesday and would have our graduation. Bittersweet.

What title…2nd Day or Overcoming Fears!

Title really says it all. What the heck should I title this entry? 2nd Day? Umm sounds a bit dry, but it works for now. 2nd Day of what? Advanced Space Camp for Educators.  Totally the best day I have had since my last visit to Space Camp. Sunday was our scuba day, and what a day that was. First I would like to admit I was pretty scared.  The thought of diving in a 24 ft tank using scuba gear?? Yep just a bit scared. Actually, I have to thank the woman Dana who pretty much was patient with me. I eventually did overcome my fear and made it to the bottom. Once there I enjoyed myself.

DSC_0050_thumb          DSC_0056

What does this have to do with my classroom? Well two things, first how does it feel in to be in a  zero g atmosphere. Astronauts train all the time in underwater situations because it is a good model for zero g environments. Now I can actually say to my students I experienced that and relate this to living in space or physic principles. I will point out to them that when I got out of the pool, I felt like I was carrying a ton of weight.


Conquering your fears, that’s the other idea I bring back to my class. I have no problem admitting to my students I was bit fearful when I went down the ladder. But I overcame that fear and experienced something I would never have experienced before (Thank You Space Camp).

For the rest of the day we did our missions and listened to Ed Buckbee author of Space Cowboys. Really awesome speaker, I did hear him last year. But he did a new talk on future space exploration. What’s really awesome is I read his book. Told him that by the way. Great read for anyone who wanted to get an idea about the early space travel.


The day ended with our Orion Mission. This was my second EVA. And much easier then the first.  But just as fun.

2nd EVA_thumb

Basically it was simple repairs on a Moon station. Pretty cool stuff. Well we ended the day with the Astronaut Simulators. Didn’t go on these this year because I had my experience last year. You can see the video at Youtube. All I have to say is what a day at Advanced Educators Space Camp. By the way these entries are a bit late because we are so busy doing other things Camp.

Stay Tune for day 3 and 4…..

Advanced Educators Space Camp Begins….


7:15 am on Saturday I began my journey with other educators to complete one mission, finish Advance Space Camp and graduate. The experience has already been a treat as they say. We started the day by introducing ourselves and learning the background of our team members. A diverse group of people who are dedicated to their profession, which I really do believe. Various members were sponsored last year by different programs like Honeywell. By the way our team name is “Marshall” of course named after Marshall Space Center. Which by the way we are visiting Sunday afternoon. Back to the topic. Teacher’s had to pay for this camp because Honeywell did not sponsor the camp this year. So what did we do? most of us applied for scholarships, grants and some saved up. If there is a will there is a way.

Today was full of training and guest speakers. At 9 am we had Astronaut Dan Thomas as our first guest speaker. He was awesome like usual, I saw him last year at the Honeywell Educators Camp. After Mr. Thomas left we were given a brief lesson on Shuttle Hardware. Nice little lesson could use some of these parts in class.

After lunch we had a special guest, his name Homer Hickman. Yep we got to meet the man behind Rocket Boys and October Sky. Hey was great guest speaker very funny and told some awesome tales. His website hosts a ton of teacher resources and his other books (Homer Hickman)  His talk was really interesting about his new books and his future projects. Of course he told us the truth behind some of the scenes in the movie.



After having the opportunity to hear some great stories, we headed over to our first mission of the day. This time around I was a mission specialists, pretty cool. Last year at Honeywell I was the commander for the first mission and we won best mission. Okay I know that’s in the past and stop bragging, just can’t help it. (Here are the posts from last year)

This would be my first EVA and it was the best. My job was to help another mission specialist fix a satellite. First let me just say the suit was so hot, they have you wear an ice vest to keep you cool. Hot but fun! This was the first mission of the camp. Different from last year, we used a different orbiter and a different mission. It was the last mission of the day and went well.


It was a great day and we totally rocked the EVA. I was tired but what an experience. Again throughout the day  we learned a good deal about team work and collaboration. What does this have to do with the classroom? Whatever we want. I especially have been thinking about how to use Rocket Boys in the class. This would fit well with the Common Core Standards in science.

Again the space camp experience is becoming a total assets to me and my teaching. Next post will be about my scuba experience and other missions. Stay Tuned….

Summer Is Here!

So I think every teacher thinks about what they will do over the summer. Of course part of it is catching up on sleep. And of course some of us think about what we can work on for next year. Well I think I try to do both, however this summer is a bit different.

It all starts on June 24th when I will attend a NASA NES teacher experience (NES Teacher Recognition). The experience is called Science@Work, a bit different from other years. Teachers work with engineers and scientists to learn about their topic. For instance, I’m working with a Laser systems engineer; Byron Meadows. My experience takes place at Langley Research Center. Last years experience took place at Langley and I had a great time. I obtained an awesome amount of material to bring back to the classroom. I don’t doubt this years experience will be the same.


My next experience starts on July 5th, I will be attending Advanced Space Camp for educators. Honeywell decided to stop funding the camp, but Space Camp continued to offer it for a fee. Since we had PD money left over, I was given the go ahead to attend. Since I attended Honeywell Educators camp last summer, I qualified to attend this camp. Can’t wait, according to the schedule we are suppose to be visiting the Marshall Space Flight Center and see the historic Redstone Test Stand and the Payload Operations Center. Of course there will be simulation missions, three different ones. Hot Air Balloons, Rocketry, and Scuba etc. Looks like an experience I will enjoy.


The last summer experience is the Siemens Stars experience:

“Siemens STARs Fellow to participate in the 2013 Siemens Teachers as Researchers (STARs) Program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. STARs will provide teachers with a two week research experience at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), mini-workshops on transitioning research into the classroom, and continuing collaborative opportunities with PNNL scientists and other educators.”


For 3 years I have been applying to this experience and I finally got it this year. I’m very excited about this. I’ll be heading to Richland, Washington in July for almost two weeks. I hope I will get to see some of that beautiful state while I’m there.

So the summer is pretty much full. I’m hoping to blog about each of my experiences and post photos. So keep an eye on the blog for more information. 

Lunar Egg Challenge…Final Drop- Part III

moonorbust           DSC_0055

The final day of the project finally came and the whole school knew we were doing our egg drop. We had a lot of visitors the day of the drop. Each class would drop their landers,   roll their rovers down a ramp, while measuring the distance the rover traveled.


I think I forgot to mention in previous entries, part of the student’s problem was to build a rover that would carry an egg safely down a ramp. The distance the rover would travel would add points to their score. We were scoring the projects by the rubric I posted in the last entry. This included whether the egg broke or cracked  points would be deducted if this happened.

The drop went well and we had one group do a great job on their rover going over 170 cm in distance. As for the eggs, It was split down the middle, some groups had their eggs crack or break. However, there were a good many that survived the drop. Overall, the students did a good job on their designs and had fun doing it.

As with all projects, Ms. Melcher and I sat down to talk about the components we would change or hopefully improve upon. Part of the process includes giving the students a formative assessment to find out what they did learn from the project. We agreed this might be something to do or actually have students complete step 8 in the packet.  Step 8 in the engineering design packet has students creating presentations about their designs. This could be an option for another part of the grade for the project. Students wouldn’t have to present, but would create this part as a mini report. Just a couple of ideas. We did agree that we would prefer smaller groups, large groups didn’t allow for everyone to be involved in the process.  Otherwise most of the project went well. We have already started collecting martials for next year.

Lunar Egg Challenge- Pre-Build Part One

“The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps engineers use to guide them in problem
solving. Engineers must ask a question, imagine a solution, plan a design, create that model,
experiment and test that model, then take time to improve the original – all steps that are crucial
to mission success at NASA. What makes this guide different from others is: (1) there are no
specific instructions or “recipes” for building the items; and (2) there are no given drawings. The
emphasis is for students to understand that engineers must “imagine and plan” before they begin
to build and experiment.” taken from NASA Best Guide.

“Drop an egg from a second story window without breaking it”

Crazy is the word students used when given this challenge. We modeled the lesson using NASA explorers lesson, “NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION: LUNAR NAUTICS” which is located on the NES website and a lesson I obtained from Honeywell Educators Space Camp.  Collaborating with Physics teacher Angie Melcher, we combined physic and earth science students into groups. This was done randomly, we figured for the first time this might be a good idea. After getting the students settled into their groups we prepared them for the activity. Around 200 students took part in this challenge!

This is when we introduced the Engineering Design Packet we obtained form NASA eClips website.  Using the design process we informed students what their goal was and the parameters they would have to follow. Build a lander and rover, the lander had to protect the rover which carried an egg or as we say “egg-o-naut” . We would drop the lander, with the rover inside, from a second story window.

Kids Workspace 35/365

Student painted Canvas, physics student Jason did a great job on our drop zone canvas.

Students were given a list of materials before they started (see below). They were allowed 100 total credits for both the lander and rover.  The original lesson called for 100 each, but we thought that might be a bit too much and we wanted to challenge our students a bit more. Teachers signed off on any items purchased by the groups.

We purchased all materials prior to the introducing the project and this also gave us a chance to change any materials.  For example, wheels became a popular item among the students, we gave them a couple of options. We purchased some K-Cup tops something different from the original materials. Another item we included that was not listed in the original project sheet, were bottle caps. We included all types, students preferred the the caps from PowerAde or Gatorade bottles, they became the favorites for wheels.  Oh and one thing, no parachutes! Yep they didn’t like that, but we were landing on the Moon and not Mars. All the items were purchased from Amazon, for decent prices.  Side note, make sure you have enough cardboard tubes, they like this material for the rover body, we ran out.




Grading and rubric was included with all the materials handed out to students. The engineering design packet had its own rubric, but we decided to to include our own rubric. Ms. Melcher, did all of the work on this part, she included some of the original categories. Students were given the rubric before they started the build,  so they knew how we were assessing them.

This whole project represented the future standards in science. We definitely could incorporate the Next Generation Standards into this project. The engineering packet guided the students throughout the process. It was originally geared to middle school, but we adjusted it for high school students. One of the main changes we made was to make the project more of a PBL lesson, we guided the students but did not become too involved. Pretty much we allowed them to think outside the box. It also went much smoother with two teachers involved due to the number of students participating in the activity.  We have already started thinking about next year and what we are going to change. Special thanks to Angie Melcher for all her work.

Next Blog will continue with the actual building part and DLN..……

First Week is in the Books!

And it was great! Well I think it was great and I’m hoping the students had fun too.

The first two days were filled with course outlines and lab safety. After, I had students randomly choose index cards labeled with different groupings. I did this last year and talked about it in a prior post, First Day 2011.  Students did a good job getting into their groups and they also enjoyed it.

Once we were done I then began to implement some of the lessons ideas I got from my summer experience with Honeywell Educators (thanks again Honeywell). Students were given ISS (International Space Station) capsule names as group names. For instance, one group was named Destiny and another Zarya (go Zarya, my group at camp). Each group was given an assignment to find the background information to their capsule. They also were given a job title assignment. This is what I came up with:






Lab Group Assignment

After lab groups have been chosen students are to choose their jobs they will hold during the semester for labs and group activities. Depending on the number of people in the group, each job should be filled.

Each Job has a duty the person must perform and contribute to the overall activity for the group.


Commander– person will be responsible for the whole group, they will be in charge of the group folder and papers due for labs and group activities. Lab write ups!

Pilot-this person will assist the commander with papers and folder, plus they will be in charge of the final lab report given to the teacher.

Mission Specialists– this person is in charge of lab equipment and cleanup. They will be the person to get equipment ready for the lab.

Payload Specialists– will help in lab set ups and cleanups. They will work with the Mission Specialists to make sure lab is completed.

Flight engineer– will be the person to make sure all activities are completed correctly and help the specialists with equipment.

CAPCOM– communication person, they are responsible for communications with the teacher and other groups. If there is a problem they are to communicate the problem and maintain communication in the group.

Once your group members have chosen their jobs you are to make sure they are listed on your group folder. You will then be given a group name.

1- When you are finished individuals are to:

Find out the “real” job description for their jobs. Use the internet to find the answers, make sure you put your name on a sheet of paper with your job and its description. Each job comes from NASA missions; they are actual jobs people perform on missions.

2- For the group:

Find out what the group name means, what is the purpose of the capsule, what country produced it, and when was it launched. Hint: International Space Station

Both assignments should be finished and put into your group folder. Remember everyone must have a answer sheet for the job descriptions, but only one answer sheet for the Group name.


After students finished their work, I had them whiteboard their answers. Since parent/teacher night was that day, I took pictures of all the students with their groups. With the pictures I created a slideshow for the parents.

I think this started the year off on a good note. We did some team building with the lab groups. I used the information I obtained from Area 51 at Honeywell Space Academy. The feedback I got from students was good, they really enjoyed the activities.  I think I will break up the year using these team building skills, especially when a break is needed.


I next unit will include some work with Earth Science Literacy and the Big Ideas.  I’m putting together an assignment that would include group work and online digital media tools.

In Forensics, we just completed use of observation exercises. Students really enjoyed the different observation activities that were included with our new text Forensic Science Fundamentals & Investigations. I did set up a mini-crime scene one day and asked them to hypothesize what they think could have happened using only the evidence at the crime-scene. Some of them had some really neat ideas. Next on the agenda is collecting evidence, should have some fun with this.

The next couple of weeks will be busy trying to fit everything in and keeping on task with both classes. I hope to incorporate a NASA lesson and some trace evidence.