28 August 2013
Two University of the Sunshine Coast Education students have received their “wings” after flying through their week-long mission to graduate from Space Camp in the United States.
Sheva Butler of Currimundi and Amy-Louise Peen of Birtinya have returned from the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama, where they participated in astronaut training activities and simulations and met NASA veterans such as Dr Don Thomas, who flew four Shuttle missions in the 1990s.
Mrs Butler, 41, and Ms Peen, 21, are aspiring school teachers who won USC School of Science, Education and Engineering scholarships to go on the trip of a lifetime featuring simulated space and Mars missions, working with robots and launching their own rockets.
Both say they gained extraordinary experience and resources to bring to their future classrooms, with the aim of encouraging more children to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Mrs Butler, a mother of five who has worked in childcare in Australia and Britain, said the camp was inspiring and boosted her enthusiasm for science subjects.
“We spent an intense five days doing workshops, training for simulated missions and learning to move in space,” she said. “It was realistic, exciting and challenging. We met astronaut Dr Don Thomas and Space Camp founder Ed Buckbee, who talked about his times with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.”
Mrs Butler blogged details and photos of her journey at http://nasa-space-camp-2013--mrs-butler.blogspot.com.au/, receiving comments and questions from children at Sunshine Coast schools where she had undertaken placements.
She will share some of her Space Camp activities and resources with these schools in November and with Barkly Highway State School in Mt Isa in October, during her final supervised placement.
Ms Peen, who is studying a double degree in Education and Science at USC, said she gained amazing new skills, experiences and networking opportunities in America.
She currently works as a laboratory technician at Chancellor State College and as an educator for the Helping Hands Network (outside school hours care).
“The NASA trip has opened so many doors for my career, helping my CV stand out to employers and providing inspiration in an expanding field,” she said.
“I love working with children and I have a strong passion for science, particularly chemistry, so the USC degree is my perfect combination. I cannot wait to get into the classroom.”
The scholarships were provided by the University, the Science and Engineering Education Centre established with Chancellor State College, and Nambour Rotary Club.
Four district school teachers joined the USC students on Space Camp. They were Mark Bateman of Beerwah State High, Mark Heinrich of Caloundra State High, Tony Lamont of Nambour State School and Bianca Marek of Glenview State School.
USC Head of School of Science, Education and Engineering Professor Noel Meyers said the initiative aimed to enhance the capacity of teachers to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers.
— Julie Schomberg