Thomasville teacher flies high at Space Camp

Andrea Clanahan suits up for a simulated trip to the International Space Station.

Andrea Clanahan suits up for a simulated trip to the International Space Station.

By Carolyn Drinkard

Special to The Watchman

Andrea Clanahan, an eighth grade science teacher at Thomasville Middle School, recently attended SPACE CAMP at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, NASA’s official Visitor Information Center for Marshall Space Flight Center. The educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students and adults with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and decision-making.

Clanahan was part of the Space Academy for Educators Program, which is designed for teachers who want to advance education in the STEM fields. Clanahan experienced astronaut simulators and took a virtual tour into space to save the International Space Station. Trainees also followed lesson plans based on NASA content (which is correlated to the National Science Education Standards) and received content and knowledge to pass on to their students in the classroom. Educators earn 45 hours of continuing education credit and can potentially earn graduate credit through the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Andrea Clanahan prepares to ride the simulator as a Space Academy instructor buckles her in.

Andrea Clanahan prepares to ride the simulator as a Space Academy instructor buckles her in.

Space Camp operates year-round in Huntsville, Alabama, and uses astronaut-training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects. Trainees sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA.

Nearly 700,000 trainees have graduated from Space Camp since its opening in Huntsville in 1982, including STS-131 astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, who spoke to Clanahan and the other campers. Last year, children and teachers from all 50 states and 64 international locations attended Space Camp.

Anyone who might be Interested in training like an astronaut should visit www.spacecamp.com or call 1-800-63 SPACE.