South Charlotte

Teacher has a blast at space camp

Heather Rath Brown's story about her summer vacation will surely wow her students at Lake Wylie Elementary this fall.

Brown, 25, just returned from the Honeywell Space Academy for Teachers at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. She was one of 300 teachers picked to participate from nearly 1,500 international applicants. Here's what she said about the experience. Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity:

Q. What was the most fun part of the experience?

The astronaut simulations. My favorite was being strapped into the multi-axis trainer while it was spinning out of control. At the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, I got to take part in some once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like the gravity simulator. I got to feel what it is like to walk and jump on the moon. We all got a little silly during this simulation and posed like Tinker Bell or a kung fu fighter in the air.

Q. What were some of the other exercises you did?

On the “Five Degrees of Freedom Simulator,” I was assigned to do an extravehicular activity and “repair” the Hubble telescope. ... I was attached to a simulator that made me feel like I was floating. We also got to participate in the aviation challenge course where a zip line simulated a parachute landing, and we got submerged in a “dunker” to simulate a helicopter crash.

Q. What was most challenging?

Going to bed at a reasonable hour. There were teachers from 48 states and 18 countries, and I was having an awesome time talking to people from all over the world. I've never been in a situation where I was surrounded by so many cultures and backgrounds. We stayed in the dorms at University of Alabama at Huntsville. I felt like I had a flashback to college, meeting new people, staying up late, waking up early, eating cafeteria food.

Q. What surprised you about the experience?

I am surprised how well 100 teachers can work together and accomplish goals. Teachers, by the nature of our jobs, are leaders and are usually very loud and outspoken. We all divided into teams of 15 to 17 to accomplish “missions” and create projects. When you have 15 strong-willed, outspoken individuals working together, you would think that there would be a lot of power struggles and debating, but surprisingly, our team worked flawlessly together.

Q. What will you take back to your classroom?

An excitement for the future of space travel. The Ares program that NASA is working on plans to put men on Mars within our lifetime. The astronauts that go on this journey could be in my classroom. I am teaching the future generation of space pioneers.

Heather Rath Brown's story about her summer vacation will surely wow her students at Lake Wylie Elementary this fall.

Brown, 25, just returned from the Honeywell Space Academy for Teachers at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. She was one of 300 teachers picked to participate from nearly 1,500 international applicants. Here's what she said about the experience. Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity:

Q. What was the most fun part of the experience?

The astronaut simulations. My favorite was being strapped into the multi-axis trainer while it was spinning out of control. At the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, I got to take part in some once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like the gravity simulator. I got to feel what it is like to walk and jump on the moon. We all got a little silly during this simulation and posed like Tinker Bell or a kung fu fighter in the air.

Q. What were some of the other exercises you did?

On the “Five Degrees of Freedom Simulator,” I was assigned to do an extravehicular activity and “repair” the Hubble telescope. ... I was attached to a simulator that made me feel like I was floating. We also got to participate in the aviation challenge course where a zip line simulated a parachute landing, and we got submerged in a “dunker” to simulate a helicopter crash.

Q. What was most challenging?

Going to bed at a reasonable hour. There were teachers from 48 states and 18 countries, and I was having an awesome time talking to people from all over the world. I've never been in a situation where I was surrounded by so many cultures and backgrounds. We stayed in the dorms at University of Alabama at Huntsville. I felt like I had a flashback to college, meeting new people, staying up late, waking up early, eating cafeteria food.

Q. What surprised you about the experience?

I am surprised how well 100 teachers can work together and accomplish goals. Teachers, by the nature of our jobs, are leaders and are usually very loud and outspoken. We all divided into teams of 15 to 17 to accomplish “missions” and create projects. When you have 15 strong-willed, outspoken individuals working together, you would think that there would be a lot of power struggles and debating, but surprisingly, our team worked flawlessly together.

Q. What will you take back to your classroom?

An excitement for the future of space travel. The Ares program that NASA is working on plans to put men on Mars within our lifetime. The astronauts that go on this journey could be in my classroom. I am teaching the future generation of space pioneers.

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