DeKalb Teachers to Attend NASA Workshop, Shuttle Launch

May 24, 2008
Dwayne Page

Four teachers from DeKalb and Cannon County will participate in NASA workshops and watch a space shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center as guests of U.S. Representative Bart Gordon.

Anita Arnold of Short Mountain Elementary, Lisa Cripps and Karen Pelham of DeKalb Middle School, and Genrose Davis of DeKalb West Elementary School will attend workshops and watch the launch of the space shuttle Discovery, which is scheduled for early evening Saturday, May 31st.

"I'm hoping it will increase their interest in math and science, particularly science," Arnold said of the eight graders she teaches. "I try to stress that science is something that affects us every day."

Both Cripps and Pelham teach eighth graders, Cripps teaches science, and Pelham teaches math and science. Davis, a librarian for 32 years, says she is excited about the trip.

"This will open up the space and rocket sections of my books. We have several, but I'm sure I'll be looking for more," Davis said. "I have been to Cape Canaveral and toured inside about 35 years ago. Lots of things have changed in 35 years, especially in space."

Gordon, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, worked with NASA officials to develop an itinerary the teachers can take back to their classrooms to build enthusiasm about math and science among their students. Strengthening math and science education is a cornerstone of Gordon's America COMPETES ACT, which became law last year in an effort to keep the United States competitive in the global marketplace.

"When you ask astronauts, engineers and other scientists what inspired them to enter their fields, most of them will tell you they were inspired by a teacher," said Gordon. "I hope this experience will give these teachers another way to inspire their students.

This group will be the second group of teachers from Gordon's congressional district to attend a space shuttle launch as guests of the congressman. A group of 10 teachers met with Gordon and attended a rare night launch of the space shuttle Endeavor on March 10th.

"Many of those teachers told me that experience will greatly enhance their lessons on math and science," said Gordon.

Fourteen teachers from DeKalb, Rutherford, Wilson, and Trousdale counties have been selected to watch the space shuttle Discovery launch.

The teachers will begin their experience on Friday afternoon, May 30th, with a tour of the launch pad, vehicle assembly building and shuttle landing facility at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

On Saturday, May 31st, the group will attend professional development workshops with NASA personnel to help the educators develop lessons on rocketry and technology used by astronauts. The teachers will then have VIP access to view the shuttle launch, scheduled to occur at 5:02 p.m.

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