It’s now two weeks since my unbelievable visit to Mercury MESSENGER MOC, and I am still recovering. Recovering from information overload, sleepless nights, and missed school work. I am exhausted, but it is a great feeling. I could not think of a better experience to bring back to the classroom. This trip had it all – Real science, great data and images, scientists and engineers who could explain everything to the average person, administrators who were willing to bend over backwards to make things work, and an exceptional group of teachers who worked well together to get the information out. The dedication of all parties left me wondering how this event could not have happened before this. No NASA event that I am aware of involved teachers has involved teachers and their respective communities in real time like this one did. I am already seeing the repercussions in my hometown. Not a day goes by that i am not stopped by people who ask about what happened. I have been contacted by other districts to come and talk to their teachers. My Alma Mater, Alfred University somehow found out about my trip and wrote about it in their Alumni E-newsletter. I even had an old friend from college see the article they quoted and used my site to connect with me for the first time in 25 years.
Last weekend I went down to my place in the southern tier of New York to enjoy the fall colors and catch up on my sleep. After three days straight of twelve hours of sleep each night, I finally felt rested. Just in time to start catching up on my schoolwork. My students have been awesome asking about the trip and listening to my stories about how this connects with my courses. The interesting thing is that I have been able to connect everything about the MESSENGER mission with not only my Regents Physics class and my Astronomy class, but also my Physics of the Arts class. While I was away on the trip, my students were working with stop motion animation. Showing them the movies that have been made out of the images that MESSENGER has taken allowed my students to see the real world/non-commercial uses of this science/art. They loved it.
It was not only my classroom that was affected by my trip. Last Thursday, I accepted the Masonic Distinguished Service Award. The Master of my lodge had already nominated me before he found out about my MESSENGER connections. During the Awards Ceremony I was constantly asked about the trip. From what i can tell, this is what NASA needs – connections with communities. Everyone I talk to is excited, from secretaries and school nurses to retired engineers and homemakers. Everyone has dreams and space connects with a lot of people. To have an average guy you know connect with NASA in such a personal way makes you believe you can achieve your own dreams.
Hopefully by the end of this week, I will be totally caught up grading and ready for my next set of activities – Presenting at STANYS and teaching courses on MESSENGER activities. Hopefully I won’t be as winded at the end of those.
Ciao for now.