Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Astronaut Videos

Space Suit Video

This is a short video made of still pictures of my wife putting on the Apollo space suit. The last two pictures are of her trying to get out of the suit.

Space Symposium reaches out to the next generation

This is a link to a news story about the Teacher Liaison workshop. For a brief second you can see Sarah's head. My groups lander didn't work so well. The astronauts (marshmallows) kept getting flung out, not good if you are an astronaut.

To watch the story, scroll down and click on "Space Symposium reaches out to the next generation"


Space Symposium Day 2 – Teacher Liaison Workshop Day

My brain is mush, I’m tired and I absolutely can’t wait to teach lessons back to Liberty tomorrow, and in my classroom after spring break. We knew that today was going to be really cool and it absolutely lived up to its billing. We started the day with the deputy director of the Jet Propulsion Lab, Lt. General Gene Tattini, talking to us. He walked us through a bunch of different things that JPL does including some of their 19 current mission, and some of their upcoming missions. One of the most exciting missions that he talked about will be launched in 2011. It is the Mars Science Lab. It will weigh close to a ton and will travel distances measured in kilometers, not just meters. It truly is the size of a small car and will not rely on solar panels, it will have its own plutonium powered nuclear generator. That will be a fun mission to follow. Also as an update, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that were originally supposed to last for three months, are now going on 5 years of service. Lt. General Tattini also talked about the study of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system). Currently there have been 343 discovered but only one of them is earth sized. Most are the size of Jupiter or bigger. The Kepler mission that just launched this month will be looking for earth size planets. As you can tell this was an information packed presentation. I took over four pages of notes and I know that I missed some stuff.

Lt. General Gene Tattini

Our next speaker was Stephan Feldman, the president of the Astronaut Memorial Foundation. He talked about the foundation and the memorial at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I’ve been to the memorial before and never really “got” it until today. It is a 50 foot tall by 40 foot wide reflective marble wall with the names of the astronauts who have perished in the line of duty. It is reflective so that the names look like they are in the clouds. I thought that was pretty cool. He also talked about the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award. This award is sponsored by the AMF and the Space Foundation and the winner got regocnized at the opening ceremonies last night. I applied for the award this year. I didn’t win, and didn’t really expect to but I got a letter saying that I was a finalist. We found out today that there were four finalists, I don’t know if I was one of the four but I will definitely be applying again next year.

After those two got done speaking we spent most of the rest of the day doing teacher stuff. We learned about lessons involving space suits, space walking, landing on the moon and Mars, as well as got a ton of great information about other programs to bring back. I will be sharing some of the space suit information tomorrow when I video conference the lesson back. I don’t want to give too much away but I have some cool stuff to be sharing.
Mr. Gagnon (one of the amazing Space Foundation teachers, also a really good friend)

Probably the highlight of the day was a session called “The Astronaut Show: Down to Earth With the Guys From Space.” They brought in Shuttle Astronauts Fred Gregory and Jim Reilly, both flew on three shuttle missions. The third speaker was Livingston Holder. He was an astronaut but his flight was cancelled after the Challenger disaster. They all had some great stories and some great advice for kids and teachers. The videos below are a small part of what they had to say. Probably the biggest idea that I got from them was that no matter who you are, or where you live, or what your background, you truly can become whatever you want. I think Livingston said it best when he said, you know I didn’t get to go into space but on my journey I’ve gotten to do some really cool stuff.

Astronaut Jim Reilly

Livingston Holder

Fred Gregory, first African American Space Shuttle Commander

Another really cool thing happened at the end of the workshop today. One of the presenters had brought along a real Apollo space suit, this was a training suit used when we were going to the moon. My wife got to try it on! I am so jealous. After looking at the pictures you will understand the next thing I’m about to say. I would have loved to have tried it on (see picture of me in the helmet) but you would have needed a crow bar and some WD-40 to get me into our out of it. Check out the pictures of Sarah in the space suit.

Houston, we have a problem - My head is stuck!

I didn't think she was going to take the suit off.
Even Chrys from the Space Foundation got into the act.

Tomorrow Sarah has to fly back to Kansas City but before she leaves we will be hitting the exhibit center along with a little Knight (there is some really cool stuff to take his picture with). We are only two days into the week and it has been unbelievably cool, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will be like and I am completely excited to bring the things we learned today back and use them at South Valley.

P.S. This is the 150th post I've made to this blog! Woo Hoo!

P.S.S. Check out how snazzy I look in the suit - you don't see that too often.

National Space Symposium Opening Ceremonies

Opening Ceremonies of the National Space Symposium

Where do I start? The opening ceremonies were absolutely amazing. The Space Symposium is at the Broadmoor Hotel. This is one of the nicest hotels you will ever see. It is beautiful. It is nestled right next to the mountains. It has its own lake and a huge championship golf course. My wife and I showed up early and waited around for the doors to open. As people started showing up, we got to see some friends that work for the Space Foundation and some other teacher liaisons that we had met last summer. Once they opened the doors we went to our seats. We were literally six rows back, right in the middle. We had AWESOME seats. As people start coming in it was really a game of trying to pick out who was who. A congressman, Charlie Walker, walked in that I recognized and another one was pointed out to me. The governor of Colorado was there as well as several astronauts. We also saw the Chinese delegation including one of their taikonauts (Chinese word for astronaut). He was actually wearing his flight suit (see picture below). Neil deGrasse Tyson came in, he is a pretty famous astrophysicist and a really funny guy. Finally the opening ceremonies started with the Colorado Springs Symphony playing the Star Trek theme song. Now, I’m not usually a big fan of that type of music but they were amazing. Everything was choreographed to videos that played on a huge screen behind them. This is the 25th anniversary of the space symposium and the video was a retrospective. I actually got choked up when they showed a picture of the Columbia astronauts that were lost when the Space Shuttle burned up on reentry.

After they played, the president of the Space Foundation spoke. He was followed by the Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter. What impressed me most was that both of them talked a lot about education. As a matter of fact, after the governor spoke, all of the teacher liaisons were asked to stand up and they turned the spotlights on us and everyone applauded. It was pretty cool to know that a bunch of congressman, astronauts, and astrophysicists were applauding what we do, really cool also to be standing next to my wife for that part.

Next up they gave out a bunch of awards including the Alan Shepherd technology in education award. I actually applied for this award this year and was finalist. The guy that won did a huge state wide program in Florida. My project wasn’t nearly as cool or as large in scope but it was cool being a finalist. I will try again next year.

As the ceremonies closed, my wife and I made our way up to the stage where we got a chance to meet the Chinese Taikonauts as well as Neil deGrasse Tyson, and one of the congressmen. I was also walking around and saw Ron Sega, who was a space shuttle astronaut and got him to sign my program.

Chinese Taikonaut

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

When we left there, we went to the exhibit hall which is really cool. I will post pictures of it later but all of these space companies were giving away all kinds of stuff. As a matter of fact, I’m going to be giving away some of it in class after spring break and for the first SVMS student to email me and tell me that they read this, they will get a special prize.

Finally we walked over to the actual hotel (the other stuff had been in a big exhibit hall) and had a desert reception – weirdest desert reception ever, they had a chocolate bar with strawberries, etc. but they also had pizza and mini cheeseburgers. It was all good but an odd mix.
Overall it was an absolutely exhilarating night. Things like this get me really fired up to get back to the classroom and incorporate some of what I’ve learned. It was great to know that on this big stage (7,500+ people in attendance) the Governor of Colorado, and the president of the Space Foundation both made it a point to talk about education and how important it was. They recognized all of the teachers and made sure that everyone there, that was not a teacher, needed to support education. Really powerful stuff!

To end the night, my wife and I walked out to the terrace at the Broadmoor that overlooked the lake and there was the crystal clear sky, crescent moon, and Orion looking down on us. What a perfect end to a great day and the beginning of a fun week.

Bobby and Emi, our good friends that we are staying with in Colorado Springs, Bobby works for the Space Foundation and does amazing things to help teachers bring space into their classrooms!

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Pictures

Views as of 12:30 (Kansas City Time)

Balancing Rock (Mr. Willett pictured left)
Current view as of 11:00 (Kansas City Time)

Theiophytalia Kerri (Means of the Garden of the Gods)

These are more pictures to go with my lesson.


Here is a video I just took from the deck of the visitors center.

Pikes Peak is hidden by the clouds.

The View From Here

I'm getting ready to use Skype to teach a lesson back to South Valley. We've tested it and everything seems to be working. I'm including some pictures here to give you an idea of where I am teaching from. It is snowing but the sky over the mountains is starting to clear up, you can just about see Pikes Peak. I'm adding these pictures because I'm not sure how much my web cam will show. Enjoy the view.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Almost to Colorado Springs

Pikes Peak
I took this earlier today, I thought the shadow of the car looked like "Shrek"

Despite the blizzard warnings, horrible weather in Kansas City yesterday and the worries of many, including myself, we are almost to Colorado Springs. There is actually very little snow on the ground. It is 58 degrees and very windy. I can see Pike's Peak out the front windshield now. I'm always amazed at how cool the mountains look. Tonight will be visiting with our friends that we are staying with, then off to bed early. We will be getting up early tomorrow to Skype a lesson back to South Valley. I have a wireless card and I'm planning on teaching the lesson tomorrow from the visitors center at Garden of the Gods. I can't wait, I've wanted to video conference lessons back from my travels for a long time. In the past I've had kids to activities to follow along with what I was doing, I've blogged and I've even called my class but this trip is cool becuase I feel like the kids really have an opporunity to experience the Space Symposium right along with me. I've had about 8-10 kids that have started following me on Twitter and I told the kids to email me questions this week based on the blog and my tweets. I'm looking forward to getting those emails.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Finally, a Post

I’ve done a really bad job of updating this blog lately. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to use this with my new teaching position. With teaching the same lesson four times it has been a logistical issue on updating, and which class to update about. I’m still working on that. I have been doing some stuff with Twitter and each of my classes has a twitter account that we have been using to summarize what we have learned at the end of each class. We are just in the beginning stages of this.

This year has been unbelievably busy but really great. I’m loving South Valley Middle School. As a matter of fact, I was just named the SVMS teacher of the year. Broadcasting has been great with a whole bunch of cool interviews including a Harlem Globetrotter, John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted, and Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. We have interviews coming up with John Wathan who used to play for the Kansas City Royals and a former Major League umpire. I’m also working on starting a SVMS: Knightly Knews blog.

The reason that I’m starting to update again is that one week from today I will be driving to Colorado Springs, Colorado to attend the National Space Symposium. This is a who’s who of space. I had the opportunity to attend four years ago when I was named a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison. This year I get to go back. I’m going to learn a ton while I’m out there but I also get to see my wife be named a Teacher Liaison. She was one of only 29 teachers in the country this year to receive this award, and the only one from Missouri or Kansas.

The Space Symposium lasts for an entire week and this year I get to stay for the entire thing. (My school is awesome with helping me go with professional development days!) On Monday I will be teaching two lessons back to South Valley. For these lessons, I plan on setting up shop at the Garden of the Gods. I’m hoping to have web cams going. That night are the opening ceremonies. This is where I met Buzz Aldrin the last time (check out my profile picture). To cap of this evening is a desert reception at the Broadmoor Hotel with fireworks. Tuesday is an all day workshop for Teacher Liaisons. I can’t wait for this day. Sarah will receive her award, and then the rest of the day are workshops. I know the teachers and know that whatever they are teaching us I will immediately be able to bring back and use in my classroom. We also have several guest speakers. The first is Lt. General Eugene Tattini who is the CEO and Deputy Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Following him will be a round table discussion with astronauts Fred Gregory and Jim Reilly as well as Livingston Holder who has been a part of many different NASA programs. On Wednesday I will be teaching a couple more lessons back to SVMS and Thursday I will just be attending sessions for the general symposium. On Friday I will have an opportunity to visit NOAA in Boulder, Colorado. I’ve heard about their science on a sphere presentation and am looking forward to that.

My plan is to blog each day when I have a chance (probably each night) but I will also be twittering (tweeting? – still not sure of the proper terminology for twitter – but twittering sounds more manly than tweeting). You can follow me on twitter by visiting: http://twitter.com/mkelsey36 . You can also see the full schedule of events by visiting the Space Symposium website at: http://www.nationalspacesymposium.org/. You can also learn more about the Space Foundation and the great things that they do by visiting http://www.spacefoundation.org. The Space Foundation offers some amazing professional development workshops, an online lesson bank and has been instrumental in me getting to do many of the cool things that I have done in the last couple of years. Because of them I got to go on the Weightless Flight of Discovery, and attend the launch of STS-118.

If you can’t tell, I’m getting really excited about going to the Space Symposium. Stay tuned for more updates.