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GLOBE India Teacher Attends Space Academy for Educators

Dr. Annu Mathur, GLOBE Trainer and Teacher at MGD Girls' School in Jaipur, India, was selected by the U.S. Embassy to participate in the Space Academy for Educators Program in Huntsville, Alabama, from 5 - 11 June 2011. Space Academy for Educators is a five-day program offered to teachers from around the world to develop professional experience and an understanding of space through a simulated astronaut training regime. Participants attended 45 hours of intensive classroom and laboratory training focused on space science and exploration. In addition to attending the program, Dr. Mathur also served as a mentor to five scholarship students from India visiting the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, also located in Huntsville. Along with Dr. Mathur, 30 teachers from countries including India, Pakistan, and the U.S. participated in the June 2011 Space Academy. From 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. each day, the group of educators engaged in unique astronaut-style training and simulations. The program also provided elaborate study material and hands-on activities for teaching space science. "Space Camp for Educators is an incredible professional development experience," stated Dr. Mathur.

Teachers engaged in the Multi-Axis Trainer, which simulates the disorientation astronauts feel when a capsule goes into a tumble spin; they also experienced gravity as it is on the moon, which is 1/6 of the gravity level on Earth. Each group member took a turn in the Five Degrees of Freedom (5DF) chair, which allows participants to float on a cushion of air, simulating what it is like to work in the frictionless environment of space. The training also included thermal designing, which gave educators an opportunity to explore heat challenges posed to aircrafts during the journey to space. Participants designed a Mars Lander and engine rocket out of found items and predicted what might happen to the models in microgravity.

The educators took part in team-building exercises and group activities such as creating a patch for their team and a dummy mission conducted for the shuttle launch. Education classes included a briefing about the different layers of the sun, space writing, and space gardening, in which a greenhouse is created in space to research the effects of microgravity on plants and basic activities for living in space. According to Dr. Mathur, "One of the most memorable moments was when we got the chance to meet the astronaut Story Musgrave, who shared his experience of a spacewalk."

Space Academy for Educators was founded in 1982 as the U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum's education program to promote the study of math, science, and technology. Professional Development programs designed for K-12 and informal educators are offered year round. Experiences are correlated to national education standards and are designed to re-energize, excite and help teachers incorporate more math, science, and technology across the curriculum, at all levels.

Dr. Mathur stated, "It was a great learning experience. In a world that is increasingly interconnected, where mutual understanding is more important than anything, the program was a step to developing long-lasting friendships with the people of U.S., India and Pakistan."

The Space Academy allowed science educators to take an up-close look at outer space from Earth. Dr. Mathur is a certified GLOBE Atmosphere Trainer and will be able to utilize what she learned about space in teaching her students about Earth's atmosphere. The training also provides a deeper understanding of the conditions of space that can be applied to GLOBE Student involvement in current satellite missions such as CloudSat and Calipso.

Read more about GLOBE involvement in space science:

4 August 2011