He never made it to the moon, but the Brentwood resident and O’Hara Park Middle School science teacher came pretty close recently when he attended the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy last month.
Brown attended the academy with 185 educators from around the world, and part of his five-day adventure included participating in a space shuttle mission simulation. During the exercise, Brown served as the capsule commander, the astronaut who relays information between mission control and the astronauts performing the mission.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Brown said. “The space shuttle simulation was so exciting, and we also did a simulation of a mission to the moon, and that was a lot of fun. It’s really inspired me, and I can’t wait to share my experiences in the classroom.”
Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy is based at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., home to one of the most comprehensive U.S. manned space flight hardware museums in the world. The program is designed to help educators revamp their lesson plans to excite students about not only space science and technology, but math, history, engineering, physics and astronomy.
During his stay at the academy, Brown got to meet NASA Associate Administrator For Education Leland Melvin, a former astronaut who conducted missions on the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2008 and 2009. Brown said he’s already formulating new lessons and activities based on what he learned at the academy, where he spent 45 hours participating in classroom activities, laboratory exercises and space training.
“I came away being inspired,” said Brown, who has taught in the Oakley school district for 12 years. “I’m motivated to try something new. It’s a challenge teaching 13-year-olds, but it’s even tougher to get kids interested in science. You have to show them how science is relevant in their daily lives. I think I’ve got some ideas to make that happen in the upcoming school year.”
Brown has some exciting things in store for his eighth-grade science students when school is back in session on Aug. 1. While at the space academy, he learned how to build rockets in a classroom setting and simulate a mission to Mars.
He also recently completed NASA’s Moon Rock and Meteorite Certification program, which gives him permission to check out moon rocks and other space fragments to showcase in the classroom.
“When I heard about the certification program, I thought ‘yeah, I gotta get moon rocks in my classroom,’ partly because I want to see them, but mostly because I know it would mean a lot to the students to see something like that close up.”