At Space Camp in Alabama, Suffolk elementary school teacher Liz Petry experiences a simulator alongside Jeff Wilson.
At Space Camp in Alabama, Suffolk elementary school teacher Liz Petry experiences a simulator alongside Jeff Wilson.

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Space Camp inspires teachers and kids

Published 8:38pm Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Suffolk public elementary school educator has just returned from summer camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., with renewed energy for teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Elizabeth Petry stated Space Camp was “the most awesome experience in which I have had the privilege to participate.

“I will implement these lessons that I discovered with my students this year at Mack Benn (Jr.) and Booker T. Washington (elementary schools) to inspire them to reach for their dreams and to help them make connections between classroom learning and the real world in which they live.”

Petry said she was able to work with educators from around the world. Together, they “engaged in problem-based learning activities and engineering design problems to share with our students (and) networked with a diverse group of teachers.”

Petry and the others experienced astronaut-training simulators such as a G-force simulator, spatial disorientation trainer and gravity chair, as well as a zip line and helicopter recovery event.

“Our 12- to 14-hour days were jam-packed with team building and engineering design challenges, as well as teacher training sessions and special guest speakers,” Petry stated.

Guest speakers included astronaut Don Thomas and author Ed Buckbee.

Meanwhile, educator Kelli Caras, of John Yeates Middle School, is set to attend Space Camp from July 27-31, and King’s Fork Middle School students Lance Smith and Grace Merryfield from July 27 to Aug. 1, according to Suffolk Public Schools.

Honeywell Educators in Space selected Petry to attend, while Northrop Grumman supported the others.

“At Northrop Grumman, we strive to inspire and excite student interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines — this is particularly important for middle school students,” stated Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide these students and their teachers the opportunity to attend the Space Camp program to experience firsthand the importance of science and math principles when it comes to space exploration.”

Honeywell says it aims to “inspire our teachers, who in turn will inspire our students.”

Renowned rocket scientist Wernher von Braun founded Space Camp, which says it has hosted more than 600,000 students and adults since beginning in June 1982.

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