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Posted: June 24, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Local teacher attends space camp

A Rockdale County teacher joined 204 middle school math and science teachers to take a teacher-only field trip out of this world.

Tselane Chestnut, a seventh-grade science teacher at Edwards Middle School in Conyers, was among teachers who represented 27 countries and were awarded scholarships to attend the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA), a camp that celebrated its 10th anniversary this year of “inspiring teachers, who, in turn, inspire students to pursue STEM education and careers.” Teachers, including 144 from 43 U.S. states and territories, traveled to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center for one of two five-day programs between June 11-24.

Honeywell, a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing company that serves aerospace products and services to customers worldwide, created the award-winning scholarship program for teachers in partnership with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to help middle school math and science teachers become more effective STEM educators (science, technology, engineering and math). During its first decade, Honeywell has awarded scholarships to 2,176 teachers from 55 countries and 52 U.S. states and territories, according to a Honeywell press release.

“This program is all about re-igniting passion in teachers,” said Tom Buckmaster, president of Honeywell Hometown Solutions, the company’s global citizenship initiative responsible for HSEA. “STEM subjects are some of the most challenging to teach, but this experience helps teachers discover new ways of delivering lesson plans to the next generation of engineers, programmers, mathematicians and astronauts.”

Teachers were given rigorous training focused on science and space exploration, including astronaut-style exercises such as:

  • High-performance jet simulation
  • Scenario-based space missions
  • Land and water survival training
  • Interactive flight dynamic programs

Candidates had to complete an application process to qualify for the program. Chosen teachers were awarded round-trip airfare to the USSRC in Huntsville, Alabama, tuition, meals and accommodations.

“Honeywell is a world-class leader when it comes to educating teachers in STEM education, and they’re proving it again,” said Deborah Barnhart, CEO and executive director of USSRC. “These teachers, in turn, inspire tens of thousands of students around the world every year. We are pleased to partner with Honeywell in helping to build the next STEM generation.”

The demand for STEM-related jobs grew three times faster than jobs in other fields in the last 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Education, but only 16 percent of high school seniors are considered proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. Only half of those students who pursue STEM courses in college actually go on to careers in STEM fields.

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