By Tamas Mondovics

Teachers from 33 countries and 45 states including Barrington Middle School 6th grade science teacher Cynthia Fleming were accepted to attend a weeklong space camp at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) in Huntsville, Alabama earlier this summer.

Participants of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered at the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA) enjoyed space education and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities involving engineering and aerospace.

The academy is a scholarship program that inspires middle school math and science teachers to become more effective educators in STEM.

“As a 6th grade General Science teacher it was a tremendous honor to have been chosen as so many teachers apply but only about 200 are accepted each year,” said Fleming an 18-year veteran teacher in southeast Hillsborough County.

“Honeywell has given me the best professional development training that a Science teacher could experience. I am truly appreciative and thankful.”

Fleming applied for HESA last September and was notified of her acceptance by Honeywell in January 2017.

HESA representatives emphasized that the one thing all teachers in attendance have in common is that they’re on a mission to learn new ways to bring STEM to the classroom next fall.

To accomplish her mission Fleming had to complete 45 hours of classroom and laboratory instruction focused on science, space exploration and leadership skills development that included high-performance jet simulation, rocketry and a new coding mission to launch them, a scenario-based space mission, land and water survival training as well as interactive flight dynamics programs just to name a few.

While she enjoyed building rockets, constructing heat shields, performed simulated missions on the Space Shuttle and a mission to Mars involving navigation, not to mention flight simulations, space experiments all the time working in a team environment, Fleming shared her favorite experience that is safe to say many would put on the top of their list.

“My favorite adventure was putting on a space suit and doing a ‘space walk’ to install a solar panel on our trip to Mars while experiencing one-third gravity,” Fleming said.

The curriculum additionally covered the history of US space exploration featuring stories of people who worked for NASA and helped develop the USA Space Industry, including Astronaut Clayton Anderson.

According to the Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school seniors are interested in pursuing STEM, yet the National Science Foundation states that 80 percent of available jobs in the next several years will require some math and science skills. “HESA aims to re-ignite teachers’ passions for STEM and encourage students to seek a STEM career,” said HESA representative Emma Johnson.

Since 2004, more than 3 million students have been reached and inspired by 2,776 math and science HESA alumni from 62 countries and 52 US states and territories.
“It was an amazing time meeting educators from around the world,” Fleming said, adding, “I would encourage all Math and Science teachers who are passionate about learning to apply to Honeywell next September. The industry is clearly looking for teachers that want to excite the next generation of engineers and astronauts ready to go to Mars.”

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