Baltimore County teachers bring lessons from Honeywell Space Camp back to their schools

Jodi Klann (Middle River MS), Cristina Reitmeyer (Dulaney HS), Michael Guarraia (Arbutus MS), Jenny Grim (Cockeysville MS), Lindsey Jones (Eastern Technical), and former BCPS teacher David Alvin

“I have never learned so much in one week.”

That is how Cristina J. Reitmeyer, a physics teacher at Dulaney High School, describes the experience she shared with other Baltimore County Public Schools teachers at Honeywell Space Camp from June 20-24. The other teachers representing the school system at the Huntsville, Alabama, camp were: Jodi Klann of Middle River Middle School, Michael Guarraia of Arbutus Middle School, Jenny Grim of Cockeysville Middle School, Lindsey Jones of Eastern Technical High School, and former BCPS teacher David Alvin. 

Honeywell offers full scholarships for teachers to participate in the camp. More than 1,400 applied from around the world for the 2011 camp; only 200 were accepted. “Maryland was very well represented at the camp, and Baltimore County was better represented than any other county in Maryland,” Reitmeyer says. Teachers at the camp came from 48 states and 21 countries, and included teachers from every grade level as well as special education teachers. Throughout the experience, they worked together in groups of 18 to 20.

Cristina Reitmeyer in front of one of the shuttle simulators

While the teachers were kept busy 14 to 16 hours each day, Reitmeyer says that they were continually challenged and taught new strategies and lesson plans for disciplines from biology to mathematics. “Some of the things we did, like egg drops, were things that I already did in my classroom, but we learned new ways to do them as well as ways to better differentiate lessons for diverse learners,” Reitmeyer says.

In addition, Reitmeyer notes, the camp provided several new experiences. “I did some things that made me very nervous. In the aviation challenge, I did a helio dunker, where basically they put you into a capsule that is dunked into the water and you have to escape and be rescued by a helicopter. I did ziplines. I got to do a space walk, attached to a tank of water and floating through the air.”

Reitmeyer, just before ziplining backwards into the water

“In the classroom, teachers are always encouraging students to take risks and to do things they think they cannot do,” Reitmeyer says. “At the camp, we teachers had the opportunity to take new risks and to bring home techniques, ideas, and lessons that will benefit our entire schools.”

Honeywell Space Camp lessons to immediately impact Space Science Center

The lessons from Honeywell Space Camp are being incorporated into the Maryland State Department of Education’s Summer Center for Space Science. This is the second year that Baltimore County Public Schools staff – including Cristina J. Reitmeyer of Dulaney High School and Lindsey Jones of Eastern Technical High School, both physics teachers -- have led this summer center for gifted and talented youth at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Columbia. The summer center is sponsored by Science Applications International Corporation and Northeastern Maryland Technology Council.

Each year, about 20-25 incoming sixth and seventh graders participate and have the opportunity to work with NASA

Lindsey Jones and Cristina Reitmeyer in flight suits
scientists and engineers to plan a space mission including designing a satellite, building a scale model of a spacecraft, and designing a lunar robot. “The idea,” Reitmeyer says, “is to get students excited about possible careers in science and engineering.” At the end of the two weeks, students present their mission plans to engineers from Hopkins and outside corporations.

“This year, “ Reitmeyer says, “it will be even more exciting. We are going to have the students design a thermal shield, make water rockets, and more.”

This year’s Center for Space Science will take place July 18-29, and five BCPS students are registered to attend.

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