Wiregrass math, science teachers visit Marshall Space Flight Center

Posted: Wednesday, 04 March 2009

DOTHAN—Members of the Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium at Troy University’s Dothan Campus got a lesson in the future of space travel during a visit last week to the Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Local teachers who participated included Sandy Sanders of Headland Elementary, Diane Watson of Webb Elementary, Marty LaBlanc of the Dothan City Schools PASS Academy and Fort Rucker Elementary teachers Becky Raichle and Donna Brecher. They were joined by Sandy Armstrong, consortium director and Dr. Shawn Plash, faculty advisor.

The visit helped teachers learn what types of education programs today’s students will need for tomorrow’s jobs.

“I just keep going back to the idea that today’s educators are teaching kids for tomorrow’s jobs that don’t even exist today,” Armstrong said.

The three-day trip included a visit with scientists and project lead engineers in the National Center for Advanced Engineering, the Payload Operations Control Center for the International Space Station, the Advanced Propulsion Laboratory and local robotics facilities at Marshall.

Knowledge gained through the trip will aid teachers in building lessons around science and technology.

“I learned so much that I can share with my ‘Seminar in Science Education’ students this summer about technology and what’s happening in the world of science, both today and in the future,” said Plash, an instructor in TROY’s College of Education.

The teachers were also shown how to access the many educational resources offered by NASA as well as the various engineering design programs which are available for student participation.

“The students in my classroom will learn about the return to the moon in their lifetime while most of their parents don’t even realize we are going back to the moon in a few years,” Sanders said. “I was also impressed by the importance of teamwork in the projects that Marshall is undertaking in building the components of the new Constellation Program.”

This program and the recent visit by Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium members to the Johnson Space Center in Houston were funded jointly by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Alabama Space Grant Commission, which is located at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Teachers view the manufacturing prototype for the Ares 1 rocket, which will be used to replace the Space Shuttle by 2015, during a visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center sponsored by the Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium at Troy University’s Dothan Campus. (TROY Photo)

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Members of Troy University’s Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium pose together during a visit to the Marshall Spaceflight Center. From left to right to are: Donna Brecher, Fort Rucker Elementary School; Becky Raichle, Fort Rucker Elementary School; Sandy Sanders, Headland Elementary School; Diane Watson, Webb Elementary School; Marty LaBlanc, PASS Academy, Dothan City Schools; Sandy Armstrong , consortium director and Dr. Shawn Plash, TROY College of Education instructor. (TROY Photo)