Space Camp, what better way to celebrate a birthdayFor Hudson teacher Betsy May, her birthday was celebrated in grand style with over 150 close friends singing her happy birthday while she was attending Space Camp in Alabama in June.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
For Hudson teacher Betsy May, her birthday was celebrated in grand style with over 150 close friends singing her happy birthday while she was attending Space Camp in Alabama in June.
May, who has been in the district for 11 years, has taught at both ends of the spectrum first teaching students with cognitive disabilities in the Gateway program at North Hudson Elementary School. During that time she completed her master’s degree in education and four years ago switched over to teaching in the gifted and talented program and is now at River Crest and Houlton Elementary.
When fellow district teacher Chris Deleon sent an email out to fellow faculty members suggesting they apply to attend space camp, May decided to give it a try.
“I have always love space and the space program,” said May. “When Alan Shepard went into space I wrote down my own countdown to launch and I have followed all of the missions since. I guess I am kind of a space geek.”
It was a six page application; much of it was based on your attitude for learning and inquiring about what you have done to further your professional development. They also wanted to know how you would incorporate what you learned at space camp into your teaching.
“I didn’t think I would be accepted because it is geared more for middle school math and science teachers,” said May “I was just ecstatic that I got in.”
“I found out I had been accepted when Chris Deleon called to congratulate me in March,” said May , who was one of six, including Deleon, from Wisconsin to attend, out over 2,000 applicants. From that point forward, she started to bone up on her math skills and frequented the Space camp website to learn as much as possible.
May headed off to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where space camp is held from June 20 to 26, celebrating her 60th birthday on June 24.
“Daily, the bus picked you up at 7 a.m. and the earliest we returned would be 7 p.m. but most nights it was 10 p.m.,” said May. “It was a heavy pace.”
The group was divided into teams, each made up of 20 teachers.
“Team building activities, which was for me the lesson of the week,” said May, whose team members were all from different states and three different countries. “I learned more about how to get 20 people to work together.”
The week consisted of three different segments, guest speakers, missions and learning activities.
Guest speakers included Homer Hickam, Story Musgrave and Ed Buckbee. Activities, done by four to five member breakout groups from the team included building bottle rockets, extracting iron, working on aerodynamics and studying and creating thermal protection systems.
“It was all based on the inquiry method of learning science,” said May. “It reminds you what a good teacher is. You want the kids to discover for themselves the solution.”
She participated in two missions, one as a payload specialist at Mission Control and the second was doing an EVA, walk in space, to assemble a piece of equipment outside the space station.
“If your team works well they will set up a lot of anomalies for you to overcome,” said May, of the Mission Control activity. “Our team had to overcome a fire and fuel gauge malfunction as well as others. They said ‘We have never seen a team work this way’ -- that was really fun.”
“Most of my team mates were 25- 30 years old,” said May. “I was the age of their parents.”
But that didn’t stop May from experiencing everything to the greatest degree, even if it meant taking motion sickness pills to experience the gyroscope.
May’s enthusiasm and zest, were noted when she earned the coveted Right Stuff Award, which includes a scholarship to space camp for a student. May along with other district personal will determine how the scholarship will be earned.
Betsy May’s trip to space camp was paid for entirely by Honeywell. In return, they want the teachers to document all the ways they implement what they have learned at camp and how they built on it. Each teacher came home with a set of 10 CD’s documenting all of the activities.
After a lifetime of fascination with space, Betsy May earned her wings.