A few months into the school year, Whitman High School science teacher and robotics adviser Jaime Rogers is using ideas he picked up at a summer "Teachers In Space" program in Daytona Beach, Fla., in class.
Ideas like how to build a cheap wind tunnel. How to launch a weather balloon. The aerodynamics of a plane.
Rogers was among approximately 40 teachers from around the country who were accepted into the competitive program, based at Embry-Riddle University. It is the second round of workshops entitled STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), organized by The Space Frontier Foundation's Teachers in Space program and NASA. The goal of the workshops is to give teachers the curriculum and experiences necessary to boost instruction in these areas among the nation’s teachers.
Among the highlights of the summer program? Simulator training flights, said Rogers. And piloting a glider with Col. Richard Seafross, who commanded three different shuttle flights. Then there was the tour of SpaceX, a commercial operation with the goal of sending the Falcon 9 rocket into space every 22 days for commercial and public use.
Importantly, the Teachers In Space program was an opportunity to learn from the other teachers taking the course. “It was a great opportunity to interact and share ideas with other teachers from around the country -- from first year teachers to people a year or two from retirement,” said Rogers, who paid his own way to attend the course. “Especially those involved in robotics. My suite mate was a robotics coach, for example, and we shared ideas about how to build robots to engineer a solution to a problem.”
Bringing together a diversity of interests and areas of knowledge is nothing new for Rogers. He has a BS degree in Respiratory Care and worked at Good Sam and Mather Hospital until he went to Dowling College for a Masters in Secondary Education. He also obtained a post-masters in building and district administration. Since 1995 he has served as a volunteer fireman and EMT-CC at Terryville Fire Department, and is a lieutenant of Engine Co. #2.This is not the first course Rogers has gone on in the summer.
As for summer programs, two years ago, he participated in a particle accelerator course at SUNY Stony Brook, learning how to operate the atom smashing device to turn boron into carbon.
Rogers says the diversity of his activities, and in particular summer courses, are critical to his work as a teacher. “We do professional development at WW on teaching methodologies, but professional development like this keeps my mind fresh,” he says. “I became a teacher to become a lifelong learner.”