Monday, June 30, 2014

Ready to Launch!

         Extra-Vehicular Activity ( EVA ) fun! 1/6th gravity!     (c)2014 Binomio  
There are experiences in life that change you. They change the way you look at the world, the way you relate to things around you and that open your eyes and mind to possibilities. The Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy was one of those experiences for me.
Getting ready for our mission! (With Amber Sepsey, Texas)

Each year, Honeywell employees give to a fund that brings educators from around the world to Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This week-long (fully-paid!) experience not only allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and try new things, it broadened my content knowledge about space, space-science and the future of space exploration. 
Aviation Challenges: Zip Lines, Helo Dunker and more....

Preparing to enter the Helo Dunker which simulates a helicopter crash and (safe, successful escape).

This experience allowed me to bond with educators from around the country and the world and learn from each of my teammates and colleagues.

Speaks for itself! Honeywell Class of 2014 (Follow on FB here)
This broad range of cultures and experiences have now provided me with a network of inspired and dedicated educators to whom I can connect my students.
Ping, my roommate and teammate from China. 

Teachers room with teammates. These members of Team Tranquility ( another team) are from Rhode Island, Kenya and Kazakhstan!
 Skype dates are already planned for my classes with those in Dubai, Australia and Rhode Island, among others! The world literally will be opened for my students because of this.
Collaborative low-ropes team building.
There has been no professional experience in my recent past that has inspired me in the way that this one has.  Prior to this experience, I included space science in my units but was limited to age and depth by my own lack of knowledge and experience. No longer!

Getting ready to present our "Deep Space Telescope Facility" plans. This lesson was amazing! Lunar bases are NOT science fiction and will eventually exist. We learned about what would be needed and had to create certain areas of our lunar base incorporating this knowledge.

This year, not only do I plan to share this experience with students based on workshops and lessons I tried at HESA, I aim to take our 5th grade students to Space Camp. In fact, I will shoot for the stars, and work to make going to Space Camp at Maury Elementary an annual 5th grade trip. Stay tuned as this dream develops for our students. ( Interested in helping fund this for our students or support our fundraising efforts? Please email me: ).
Honeywell Educator @ Space Academy Team Harmony Mission Patch! Our 16 person team were represented by people from 8 countries! (Of course we had to include the HESA logo too, for without Honeywell, we wouldn't be there!) 
For the remainder of this post, I will keep my words short and let videos of my experience "do the talking". You will first find a number of short videos or experiences I had at HESA. (To view a compilation video of the entire week, visit this link!). Please consider watching these videos with your child to get them excited about all that is to come next year!

Enjoy and get ready to BLAST OFF during SY 2014-2015 to new frontiers of learning, thinking and problem-solving in Think Tank!

            10....9....8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1.... BLAST OFF!
An example of a day in the life... HESA Day 1 !

This Multi-Axis Turner (MAT) simulates the potential disorientation felt by astronauts should a capsule spin out of control upon re-entry.

During the week, we completed two mission simulations. Here, we watch in Mission Control while "Commander Patrick" attempts to land his shuttle safely prior to our official ( graded!) mission the following day!

What does it feel like to "walk" on the moon? Like this! Exploring 1/6th gravity with this special chair.

We completed MANY workshops about content and lessons we could bring back to our classes. This video shows our Martian Lander-Rover Challenge! We worked together to create a lunar lander that would get an egg safely to the ground, in a specific location while carrying a "rover". We then would use the rover to see whose went the farthest. The simplest designs won ( aka no ours) but it was still a great challenge and one that will definitely be used in Think Tank this year!

What does it really sound like in mission control? Here I worked with a team to provide information to our teams "on the moon" ( directly into their ear pieces). It is stressful!

And more from SOCR! Take a look at what the mission specialists are actually DOING in space!

We got a REAL graduation ceremony too! They take our name-tags and turn them from upside down to right side up! Speakers included astronauts, a senator and alumni from the 10 years of the program.

We then were celebrated... under a Saturn V rocket... with astronauts! What a week!

THANK YOU HONEYWELL EMPLOYEES!!!!! I have an open classroom and  all are welcome to join us any day in our learning.

Until next time,

-Mrs. Ford

Sunday, June 29, 2014

3rd Grade Game Designers!

During the months of May and June, 56 third graders had an incredibly unique opportunity! 


Thanks to an incredible partnership with Labyrinth Puzzles and Games, grant funded by The Capitol Hill Community Foundation, they became game designers!

This blog post will share the students' process and also include their "promotional videos" created by each team's marketing folks!

                                                                 "CARS VS. DRAGONS"

                                                                 "EXTREME CHESS"

Labyrinth owner, Kathleen Donahue and game-designer and employee extraordinaire Judy Thomas created an 8-week unit that led students through all the complex facets of game-design, from initial idea to final product!

                                                                      "FOX FIVE"


Students had to each determine the role they would play in their 5 person teams:



Then, after learning about theme vs. abstract games and game mechanics, students had to create a very rough outline for their design:

From there, the complexity of their designs developed. Depending on their role, they had specific work to complete and questions to consider:

Final games will be added to the Think Tank Lending Library for students to use next school year!

                                         "CLASH OF CLANS: DRAGONS AND PONIES"



THANK YOU Labyrinth and Capitol Hill Community Foundation! We hope to make this a 3rd grade unit each and every year!

-Mrs. Ford

Monday, June 23, 2014


Ready for flight at #HESA2014 !
 As the year ended, we wrapped up a few GREAT projects and I left for the Honeywell Educator Space Academy. ( I'm still here actually!) When I return next week look for awesome pictures, videos and information about all of the great things that happened the last month of school.

What do you have to look forward to?

A blog post all about the amazing Wisconsin Fast Plants unit with Early Childhood!


You'll want to play all of the  games our 3rd graders produced through our Labyrinth partnership.

You'll be blown away but the videos, pictures and learning gleamed from my time at HESA2014. Here is a video from Day 3 to tempt you!

And why not provide another. Today I was in SOCR ( Mission Control) for a lunar mission. Not only have we completed these simulations but we've also taken a number of workshops on lessons I can bring back. I can't WAIT for next year to learn with all of Maury's STEM lovers! This is a lesson we learned today based on systems created to put Curiosity on Mars! 

So stay tuned Think Tank follower.... updates are coming soon.

-Mrs. Ford