Pat Wavle is a National Board Certified math teacher. She is married with 5 children, and has taught at Greer High School for 13 years.
She was one of 1100 teachers from around the world who applied for Space Camp. A total of 105 were chosen to attend. Selected teachers came from 47 states and 22 foreign countries.
Honeywell and NASA sponsor the program.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to practice a lot of math and science, to meet a lot of great teachers from other places, and to learn a lot about our space program,” Wavle said.
Pat Wavle describes her experience below:
Our days began at 7:00 AM when we were picked up on a bus and ended with our return sometime after 9:00 PM. In between the time was filled with classes and activities that included simulated space walks, shuttle missions, experiments, training in simulated weightless situations, and included both individual and team work. For one activity 6 of us were put into a “dunker” which was to simulate a helicopter crash, and submerged in the lake. We had to make sure all 6 escaped, swam to a designated location, and were rescued in a basket. One of us was to have a broken arm, another a broken leg, and the third was to represent a non-swimmer. What they didn’t realize was that in my group, neither of our Chinese teachers could swim! I really had to admire their courage and faith in their teammates when they still went forward with the project. Another simulator shot us up 140 feet in 2.5 seconds, allowing us to experience 4 G’s of force on the way up, 2-3 seconds of weightlessness, then a free fall back to the ground level. We met Don Thomas, one of the astronauts, as well as Homer Hickam whose life story was told in the movie, October Sky. We heard from a lot of people who work for NASA or Honeywell—everything they did was First Class!
What I learned:
The value of teamwork for one thing! No one could tune out. Every job was critical to the success of the mission. Also, the value of accuracy where mistakes cost lives of your friends. We saw some indescribable photos taken by Hubble and shown on their IMAX 3-d screen. The incredible vastness of the universe and the features that make our planet unique in this vastness were overwhelming. It is incredible that anyone could see all of this and see anything other than a wise and loving Creator!
I also was reminded how fortunate we are to be Americans, where human life is still valued. We heard the story of a US and Russian joint venture. The Russian astronaut could not re-enter the space capsule due to poor design of his space suit. When they radioed back for instructions, the Russian government said to tell him, “Thank you for your service to your country. You will need to stay behind.” He took drastic measures and was able to return, but I just knew that would not have been the response of the people at NASA had it been one of our astronauts!
How this will benefit my students:
We were given an alumni website which has literally thousands of lesson plans, powerpoints, and video clips that were prepared by NASA for educational use. Since I currently teach Virtual school these will be easy to incorporate in my lessons. My students will also be able to communicate directly with NASA engineers. NASA will do virtual meetings and projects with my students. We were given a lot of printed material while we were there as well. I especially appreciated the fact that the problems we worked on were real world problems which will help answer the perpetual student question, “When will I ever use this?” You can take a problem with the heat encountered by the returning spacecraft and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how the knowledge gained in solving this problem could transfer to things like improving fire protection in a home or for firefighter clothing. I like doing projects with my students, and we also saw many examples of inexpensive projects I hope to use. It was a week well-spent.