CLEAR LAKE CITY, Texas - Some teachers are taking a trip to space, Space Center Houston that is. It’s for a conference like none other. More than 900 educators from 29 countries are gathering in cyberspace, taking part in the Space Exploration Educator's Conference.
"It’s hands-on. It’s movement. It’s whole body. It’s really exciting," says Spring ISD 7th Grade English Language Arts teacher Ellisha Newton.
As teachers become students in this conference they're learning to keep kids engaged even while COVID-19 keeps kids out of the classroom.
"I could show a wicked cool rocket video and then teach kids algebra and they wouldn’t even know it’s happening until afterward. So it’s an exciting tool for engagement," explains Space Center Houston VP of Education Daniel Newmyer.
"I was in a session this morning about engaging students online, virtual learners and having them to interact using music and movement. I’m actually going to be using some of that today. So it’s not after the conference it’s literally like today I’m using what I learned," Newton laughs.
Educators are encountering engineers, scientists, astronauts, and other space exploration employees online to take the career titles back to their students.
"I have this unique little opportunity to challenge them to think about careers they may have not known even existed," says 8th Grade Science Teacher Jenny McCall from Lexington, KY.
The teachers are also going where no man has, well where no member of the public has gone since the pandemic started, virtually visiting the twice-flown Space X Falcon 9 Booster.
" Kennedy Space Center gave us a fantastic tour also today," Newmyer explains.
NASA Dive Operations Specialist Lauren Maples explained hypergravity to the educators while standing at the tank full of water.
The theme of the conference?
"Persevering through innovation and this theme is inspired by the Perseverance Lander which will be landing on Mars February 18th," adds Newmyer.
Perseverance, particularly in the pandemic is something we could all use a lesson in, not just for the classroom.
"We’re trying to reflect our best selves and the only way we’re going to do that is learning to persevere and those lessons are going to teach us how to live on Earth better," smiles McCall.
The conference runs through Saturday and once you register the more than 100 sessions will be available whenever you want to watch or show it to your class.