“I plan on playing with fire this school year!” exclaimed the Lexington School District teacher Donald Sarazen as he reflected on his fascinating experience at the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA).
Sarazen is a fifth grade teacher at White Knoll Elementary who was one of the two South Carolina teachers selected to attend HESA. The program duration was one week in Huntersville, AL at the United States Space & Rocket Center (USSRC).
From June 14-20 educators from the US and 33 other countries were able to immerse themselves in space exploration, leadership training, and science activities.
Some of the activities included computer coding, interactive flight dynamics programs, soldering electrical circuits, and scenario-based space missions. Each of the activities were designed to give the educators applicable and interactive activities to utilize in their classrooms.
“Honeywell is doing their part to educate and motivate teachers not only on a national level, but also around the world. This will ultimately benefit students, who will be our next astronauts. Some of them may go to Mars!” Sarazen stated.
The belief in inspiring students to reach for the stars is what kept Sarazen on his toes throughout the program. Understanding his responsibility to absorb as much as possible gave him the resources that will better engage his students.
The program has helped him formulate plans for space related experiments including his ultimate idea for the students to play with fire. The learning objective is for students to understand the intense level of heat that spacecrafts endure as they are returning to the planet.
Sarazen explains it as such “My students will design and create barriers made to withstand the tremendous heat encountered from the friction that occurs when a spacecraft returns to Earth’s atmosphere. We will test the barriers with a blow torch. The barrier will be on one side and an egg, simulating an astronaut, on the other. “
He has also made plans to connect with a University of South Carolina professor to help him conduct an experiment that will help his students to greater understand high altitudes.
Sarazen mentioned that another part of HESA that he enjoyed in addition to meeting like-minded educators were the speakers. He was moved by the words of retired and former Space Shuttle astronaut Clayton Anderson. The other speaker who grabbed his attention was former NASA engineer, Homer Hickam.
Overall, Sarazen considered HESA to be an enlightening and resourceful experience. One that empowered him with the tools to keep his students motivated and ever-growing in the field of science and space education.
In closing he said “HESA was an excellent experience for me. I would encourage any teacher to apply to attend.”