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Enroute Bitterroot

Mission Possible

Jessica Anderson

Normal. It's a term used to describe the usual. In education, usual usually means a practice that has persisted for an extended period. However, it doesn't mean it's acceptable. This week I'm choosing, as Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year would say, to feel the fear, but to do it anyway. 

Kibo to the Moon and Back

The Lunar Mission was my favorite part of the day. During the mission, we were tasked with launching a rocket with four astronauts and two crew members. These four astronauts were sent to the Moon as replacements for the four currently working on the Moon (I was one of them). While they were traveling, the four astronauts living in Rising Star were completing remote repairs on the capsule, repairing solar panels, and conducting science experiments. My particular job was to check for burn marks on power supply cables, change out empty tanks of nitrogen and oxygen, and retrieve a flash drive from a rover on the Moon and examine its pictures. I worked with my teammate, Yosmeny Urueta, a government employee from Colombia. We had a great time working together in the "white suits".

After the astronauts had completed tasks on the Moon, we navigated the Moon surface to Altaris. Altaris is the spacecraft that docks with Orion to bring the astronauts home from space. Luckily, we had a knowledgeable crew, commander and pilot, and CAPPCOM to guide us all the way back. It feels good to be on Earth's surface again! ;)

In reflection, our mission exemplifies the collaboration and comradery our team displays on a daily basis. There was no room for fear, only support. I am truly blessed to have a network of educators who make everyone on the team feel as if they can achieve even the most fearful of activities. Team Kibo rocks!

If you're interested in hearing first-hand how successful Yosmeny and I were on our mission, check out the video below:

Team Building

Along with the mission, we completed two team building activities. The first activity was one that I did as a camper at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp as a young child; floating blocks over a moat to get to the other side. As a team (we changed our name to team Obik for this challenge), we used consistent communication and collaboration to get all eight members of our team across the moat without waking the dragon. We overcame challenges and worked cohesively to complete this mission. 

Our second mission was to move three tennis balls from one bucket to another. Unfortunately, the only way to transport the balls was with three different sized ropes. We were not authorized to touch the balls or bucket, and we were not allowed within a certain distance of the final dumping ground. Fortunately, we had some skilled rope tiers and an understanding of the forces needed to drop the balls in the final bucket. This was my favorite challenge of the two!  

Below is a video of our birthday celebration for Anna Morris, 2016 Mississippi Teacher of the Year. I've never been to a sweater birthday party...


Our missions today reminded me that Space Camp is all about facing fears, trying new things, and embracing the importance of community. Normalizing fear is essential for surviving at space camp, and is a lesson I will continue to share as I navigate new territory as a Blended Learning Instructional Coach. 

Stay tuned, Space Camp isn't over yet... 

Building Community: Lessons from Design Challenges

Jessica Anderson

On day 4 of International Space Camp, we continued to explore vulnerability. One thing I've learned from this adventure is that during times of susceptibility, we must reach out and seek support from a community. A community provides the strength we need to overcome the barriers we encounter. Today was one of those days!

Mars Rovers and X-Prize

In my classroom, I'm known for challenging students to think outside the box with a variety of design challenges. My favorites include Cutthroat Water Propelled Rockets and the Mars Sphero Rover Challenge. Today, I was on the other side of the directions; I was a learner navigating to "where the magic happens." 

In our first design challenge, we were tasked with designing a rover carrying a plastic egg. We could choose any supplies from the supply area to complete the task. After designing and building our rover, we launched it down a ramp and measured the distance of its excursion. We had some issues with it veering right (it was a back axel problem), but it did its job. The best part of this experience was working as a team with international teachers from Singapore and New Zealand. 

In the second design challenge, we applied the skills we learned from the Mars Rover Challenge. We were tasked with creating a lander (four members of my Kibo team) and a rover (four members of another Kibo group). To build the lander, we used skills similar to egg drop. The lander was required to carry a rover and an egg down to Mars. Like in the egg drop activity I do, we dropped the lander and cargo from a balcony in the Education Center. Luckily, the egg and rover survived with a little help from our knowledge of forces and free-body diagrams. Phew! We scored over 400 points on this challenge. Go team Kibo!

Mission Training

Today, Team Kibo conducted unofficial, official Lunar business; we conditioned for tomorrow's mission. On this mission, we will be tasked with putting four astronauts on the moon and bringing four home. Apparently, I've been living in space (haha) for six months and needed to hitch a ride home. Who knew? Check out the video below to see where I've lived. It's quite a tranquil place. I'll provide more information about the mission (failure or success) tomorrow. 

Multi-Axis Trainer (MAT)

I'm positive you've heard the advice "don't swim after eating," while someone needs to have a talk with Space Camp. No MAT after eating is just as important. Nevertheless, we put bravery on and tackled this contraption on a full stomach. It was a great experience! And, no, it didn't make me sick. You'll have to ask Jennifer Brown, 2016 Alabama Teacher of the Year, about sickness if you're curious. Check out my acrobatic moves below:

3, 2, 1, LAUNCH!


Yesterday we constructed rockets for an in-atmosphere mission. As you can see from today's video, rocket launching at Space Camp is not your ordinary launching experience. It includes explosives, high speeds, and requires big open fields. If you want to see my rocket almost hit a car, watch the video.

Hospitality and Exchange

In addition to the wonderful activities that have filled today, we continued the tradition of sharing gifts with one another this evening. The pin or memorabilia exchange is a real testament to the community we've created over the past year. However, this week, we've added new members to our family, our international colleagues. I hope by the end of the week we can all reflect on how we've embraced vulnerability while feeling safe in this community we've created together.