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Enroute Bitterroot

Space Camp and Gravitation

Jessica Anderson


The World's Largest Lesson

During our third International PD session, Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, shared the World's Largest Lesson. The campaign focuses on ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and justice, and fixing climate change.  Under the umbrella of each challenge, the organization has set 17 goals to achieve within 15 years. For example, goal number six is to increase the availability of clean water systems and sanitation that can be sustainably managed. This goal has targets addressing safe drinking water, monitoring contamination, improving water usage, etc. All goals that we can work to achieve in our daily lives. The site contains multiple visuals, lesson plans, videos, images, and ways to promote the campaign. I'll be digging deeper into this website to help coach teachers on best practices in the blended learning classroom and expose the power of globalizing learning in the classroom. If you haven't checked it out, please do. I have a feeling you won't be disappointed. 

1/6th Gravity Chair

  • Misconception: Space does not have gravity.

  • Truth: "Gravity is a force that governs motion throughout the universe." -What is Microgravity? NASA

I'll let the pictures and video tell the story of this simulation.

Mission, Take Two

What does it mean to be uncomfortable? As educators, we often forget what it's like to be an uncomfortable learner. This is especially prominent if we've been teaching a certain grade or subject for a long period. We forget what it was like to learn the content. I'm guilty of this especially with earth science as this is my area of expertise and passion. It's good to remember to get out of our comfort zones and try something different to stretch and stress our brains.

Although I didn't enjoy the chaos of working as CAPCOM, I was reminded of the value of clear communication between stakeholders. I think if we'd had the opportunity to train a little longer or learn Mission Control lingo, I would have excelled at this role; hindsight is 20/20. However, in reflection, I was pleased with the learning experience and learned some skills I can apply in other areas. 

Note: If only we could take our classes to Space Camp for an extended period of time. Space Camp is like Common Core and NGSS on steroids.


State Teachers of the Year are a lot like astronauts. We've both gained opportunities to do things others have not. As a result, people gravitate towards our experiences to learn and apply what we do. For example, I have an infatuation with astronauts, not only because I'll never go in space but because they've experienced something I haven't. During Space Camp, we had the opportunity to listen to Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, an astronaut. She's experienced something very few people on Earth have experienced.  Her stories of her journey to space sucked me in. I wanted to know and experience what she'd experienced. Her speech epitomized the importance of dreaming big, overcoming challenges, and accomplishing your dreams. She's a fantastic role model for STEM education, especially for female students. 


Space Camp and Design Challenges

Jessica Anderson

Ablative Shield

Have you ever contemplated blasting a raw egg with a blow torch for 5 minutes and seeing what happens? If yes, this challenge is for you! The Ablative Shield activity focuses on designing a protection mechanism to keep an astronaut from burning when re-entering into the Earth's atmosphere.

We were given many supply options, but our team chose four materials: (a) felt, (b) aluminum mesh, (c) spackle, and (d) steel wool.  We layered the materials in the same order as listed with the steel wool at the forefront of the flame. As we entered the challenge we were nervous about the results, but excited to see if we'd succeed. In the end, our egg went from 78 degrees F to 114 degrees F in 5 minutes. To put these numbers into perspective, one team's egg ended up reaching 370 degrees and was cooked. In the end, our egg survived! We were really proud of our design and teamwork!

If anyone wants me to come do this with their students next year let me know. It was a blast!

Rock Wall

I've always wanted to attempt rock climbing. However, I've never been in a place where the opportunity was available. Today was the end of the wait. Although it didn't look incredibly difficult, I think I need more instruction. I got about a 1/4 of the way up, but didn't have the skill to figure out where to place my hands or feet or the strength to wait to figure it out. In the end, I did a terrible dismount and got a nasty bruise on the side of my bum-bum. Oops! 

G-Force Accelerator

I remember happily riding the G-Force when I was younger at the Billings, MT Fairgrounds. However, that was 20+ years ago. When given the chance to ride it again, I said of course. My memories of the ride were similar to the first time I rode with my Dad, great! However, I found myself experiencing the science behind the ride instead of just recognizing the excitement of trying something new. One of the benefits, or not, is the ride gives you an instant facelift. If you don't believe me, try it yourself. If only I could fund one of these machines on 

Design Challenges

One of the things I learned years ago is that design challenges are engaging, motivating, and inquiry-based (make for great critical thinking activities). The experience at Space Camp has reaffirmed that I need to continue to promote the use of design challenges in the classroom. 

I can't believe my trip is almost over. One day left...