Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASA Helps Teacher Get Kids Looking at Skies

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASA Helps Teacher Get Kids Looking at Skies

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY MARAGHY

In the popular 1999 movie, October Sky, a boy from a tiny town becomes infatuated with space flight and pursues a career in rocket science.

Teacher Gene Bush envisions similar scenarios playing out in the rural Middleburg community where he teaches.

The fifth-grade science teacher at Clay Hill Elementary School hopes this year to organize a countywide aerospace program and an annual children's air show.

And now he has officials at NASA to support him.

Bush was among 20 American teachers -- of about 100 applicants -- chosen to attend a free three-day training workshop at NASA Ames Research Center in San Jose, Calif. He is now an official airspace systems educator as part of Airspace Systems Education Cohort, a pilot program designed to train teachers on curriculum designed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which NASA hopes will inspire students to pursue careers in math, science, engineering or technology.

Bush said he discovered the workshop on the Web and applied. All expenses were paid by NASA. He and a Tampa woman were the only Florida teachers selected.

Bush spent 10-hour days touring air space system facilities, watching demonstrations, talking with engineers and learning how to use NASA's educational materials.

"I haven't even decompressed yet," said Bush, who flew home Sunday night and got only four hours sleep before school started Monday. "It was an experience. It was wonderful. I love it. I love to keep learning. If you stop learning, you'll be stagnant."

Bush pulled stickers, brochures, CDs and pamphlets from a NASA bag. At a computer, he clicked through some of the NASA curriculum, which he said is free, kid-friendly, interactive, Web-based and could easily connect to FCAT standards. Lessons can be done via Power Point in a classroom or individually.

A program geared toward kindergarten through fourth grade showed a cartoon about Robin Whirlybird who spends a day at work with her mother, a helicopter pilot. …

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