By Erica Cavazos
To prepare for a new school year, most teachers redecorate their classrooms, meticulously plan out lesson plans and replenish their school supplies. This past June, however, Cindy Glenn, a teacher at Stone Oak Elementary School, joined other educators from around the world to embark on a learning adventure of a lifetime.
After a rather rigorous application process, Glenn was one of the 210 educators selected from 42 states and 27 countries to attend Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy Program, a simulated astronaut training and professional development program at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. The program included 45 hours of professional development, as well as an intensive educator curriculum focused on space science and exploration.
“Every aspect of the training was well thought out and was very similar to actual astronaut training,” Glenn said after her trip.
In addition to professional development, each teacher underwent simulated astronaut training, which included a high-performance jet simulation, land and water survival training, interactive flight dynamics programs and a scenario-based mission simulation.
“We met a shuttle astronaut, Hoot Gibson, and a rocket scientist, Homer Hickam. I participated in two scenario-base mission simulations,” Glenn said. “I was the Commander for our futuristic Orion Mission, and I worked very hard with my team. At times, it got pretty stressful, and you really forgot it was just a simulation. Our missions were successful, and we felt proud when they were completed.”
Aside from their simulated space adventure, Glenn and her fellow honorary astronauts also participated in several hands-on lab activities.
“We built our own rockets and launched them,” Glenn said. “This was totally new to me, and it was fantastic! We had to design and build a water filtration system. This was challenging, but we were successful and even drank our filtered water.”
Apart from the exciting experience of simulated space exploration, the main purpose of the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy Program is to help teachers gain new innovative teaching skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in fun and exciting ways.
“I have so many new tools and a much greater understanding of STEM concepts,” Glenn said. “I will be able to share my personal experiences with my students and hopefully ignite their interest in science. They will develop a deeper understanding of science concepts and become better problem solvers.”
For the upcoming school year, Glenn is excited to teach her students some of the experiments she learned on her trip, like creating a water filtration system, building a lunar rover and designing a lunar base. “They are challenging yet fun activities which have real life applications,” she said.
Participants of the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy Program most often give rave reviews of the experience, and Glenn is no exception.
“The entire week, from team building activities to the simulated training, was an amazing experience. It was a wonderful way to learn and connect with teachers from around the world.”