Amber Cobb of Booneville and Dr. Curtis Varnell of Paris, both employees of the Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative of Branch, were recently invited to present at NASA’s South-East Education Conference in Houston.
During the past year Cobb and Varnell have developed and presented a space education program entitled The Space Adventure. The two have travelled throughout Arkansas and have presented the program to over 3,000 Arkansas K-2 students.
The program, recognized as one of the foremost of its kind, allows students the opportunity to go through astronaut training. During the training, students observe rockets, dress as astronauts, experience eating and drinking food in zero-g, and design their own rocket ship. The culminating events include the entire school watching an air-powered rocket blast out of sight from an outside launch pad.
The SEEC conference is the largest space science conferences of its kind and attracts thousands of teachers from around the world. The nonprofit science and space exploration learning center offers teachers and students of all disciplines access to authentic learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“We’re empowering teachers who are a vital part of developing the next generation of explorers,” said Daniel Newmyer, Space Center Houston vice president of education. “Space exploration learning is for everyone. We bring leading experts together to help teachers provide the latest resources and hands-on activities in STEM-based curriculum.”
During the three day conference, teachers visited the Houston space center, toured space craft, visited with astronauts and space scientists, and received instruction in teaching astronomy from educators recognized as exceptional space science teachers.
In addition to Cobb and Varnell, the education cooperative along with area districts, provided 11 area teachers the opportunity to attend the workshop. Teachers from Charleston, Paris, Booneville, Danville, and Waldron attended the conference.
Those from Booneville were Debbie Saunders and Georgia Littleton.
These teachers were given the opportunity to network with fellow educators, take home a multitude of cross-curriculum ideas and activities, and earn 24 hours of in-service credit.
Missy Stubblefield of Charleston described it as a “career changing opportunity. It provided us with a real hands-on opportunity to experience space science and learn new methods of making that science live to our students.”