Sunday, January 2, 2011

Report: Honeywell NASA Educators@SpaceCamp 4

This is the final of my 4 part report on my experiences at the Honeywell NASA Educators@SpaceCamp in Huntsville, Alabama, USA.

It concludes with the usefulness of the materials that I've acquired during the whole camp, how it has enriched my professional development and the contest to be selected for this fully funded experience.

If you have any questions or comments,  please write it below. I'll try to answer them the best I can. Do leave your email if you prefer a personalized answer.


Rodney Tan
4) How has the programme been useful in imparting knowledge to the student?

The Educators Space Camp is an excellent vehicle for teachers to influence their students to be interested in Space Science and for getting students to like the sciences. It encourages students to find solutions to problems while having fun. At the same time, the activities motivates the students to consider space science related careers such as being an astronaut, space or rocket engineer

The Space Camp for teachers focuses on new ideas and activities that teachers can use in the classroom especially in Maths and Science subjects but with more emphasis on space and space exploration. The activities can be also adapted for other subjects such as languages, geography and physical education.

Most of the materials for classroom and teacher’s resource kits are available freely on the Internet. You can try and google keywords such as NASA LCROSS STEM K12 or go to

5) How has this program enriched me?

The whole programme is an out-of-this-world experience and so far, this has been the greatest professional development that I have ever participated in.

One of my favorite part was probably the simulations like the Moon Walk (1/6th Gravity Motion), the Multi-Axis Trainer (aka The Vomit Machine) and the Space Shot (vertical Gs) & G-Force (horizontal Gs) experience. It made me realize how much more goes into the preparation of an astronaut for space flight than I had ever imagined.

Having experienced Educators Space Camp, it`s so much better than reading about space in a textbook because now I have some background information and some extra experiences which I can share with my students.

This camp has inspired me to reinvigorate my English lessons with Space Science materials and to share what I have learned with English, Math and Science teachers. It also made me realised that the space science theme cuts across the curriculum. For example, I learned to read and interpret actual Martian landmarks and this could be a geography lesson. On the other hand, the space science reading materials are an ideal vehicle for learning English and English for Science and Technology. The physical training and simulations of an astronaut involves Physical Education and the medical sciences as well. The list goes on.

Interestingly, our Space Camp team has set up a Facebook and we are in daily contact with each other. We continue to exchange ideas and news, and we try to collaborate on projects such as e-mail exchanges and to share ideas for the classroom through the Internet. Through these efforts, we hope there will be mutual understanding and cooperation between our schools, teachers and countries. This is an invaluable experience that I will continue to draw from in the years ahead.

The school which I am teaching now, SMK Methodist ACS Melaka has the school motto, “Ad Astra Per Aspera” (To the Stars through Perseverance) aptly describes the effort taken to be successfully selected for the programme. I have heard about this opportunity since 2006 when I googled for professional development opportunities. After three attempts, I was excited to be finally chosen for this once in a lifetime chance in 2010. This one-of-a-kind experience for teachers reinforces my own belief and the school’s to have faith and persevere until we achieve our objective even though we failed the first few times.

I would particularly like to thank my Principal, Mr. Lee Bun Chuan for his great encouragement and full support for me to attend this programme, and also to the Melaka State Education Department for the permission and leave required to attend this camp. But my greatest gratitude is to the Honeywell Hometown Solutions selection committee consisting of Jill Williams, Graham Campbell and Kelly Reed for believing in me and fully paying for my trip there.

Special thanks also to Harren Solveig,  Marian Gilmore  and Ruth Marie Oliver for facilitating all the flight arrangements, accomodation and the efficient running of the whole programme. Thanks also to our two facilitators: Diane Brown and Martin (Shaggy) Demel for making us feel at home as a group and helping us learn and enjoy our activities.

There are also possible opportunities to bring our students for the students’ Space Camp in the US or other countries where they have a similar set-up. I am actively pursuing one of these options to send my students to a Space Camp in a foreign country. I have obtained a limited number of scholarships for students to attend the Turkish Spce Camp in Izmir, Turkey from 17-23 July 2011. The student has to prepare the roundtrip airfare and some miscellaneous expenses like insurance etc. (approximately RM5,000). Please contact me soon as possible if you are interested at . This opportunity is open only for Malaysian students studying in Form 1-3 (ages 12 -15)

Latest Update:
As I have received poor response regarding the above offer, I've decided not to take up the scholarships for this year. If anyone is able to get a substantial reduction for the airfare and is interested to join this programme for next year (2012), please contact me as soon as possible.

6) How do we get selected for this Honeywell NASA Educators@SPACECAMP?

We need to note that the selection process is strictly based on the merits of the essays that a teacher writes. It is highly competitive and winners are selected by a panel from the Honeywell Space Programme following an online application which includes brief paragraphs and three brief write ups on various aspects of teaching in ones subject area. The essays are of 200-300 words maximum.

The participants are chosen based on evidence that the teacher has displayed passion, innovation and is not afraid to challenge traditional educational paradigms. Do write about your achievements and contributions in education especially about Science and Mathematics, engineering, module writing and related competitions like robotics, technology, astronomy, rocket building and space related ones. Don’t forget to write about how you can promote this programme as well.

I would like to encourage all teachers in primary and secondary schools and teacher trainers to apply for this opportunity.

Filled an online e-form for the Educators Space Camp by 31 December 2010 at the latest and if you are successful, you may receive a formal invitation from Honeywell & NASA Educators@Space Camp in March 2011. The next two batches of the programme will begin from June 15-21 and June 22-28, 2011.

For application & complete information on Honeywell NASA Educator@SpaceCamp and the fully-funded scholarship go to:        or

If you missed this year's application, please persevere and try for next year's intake. Remember, it took me 5 years and 3 attempts (I missed out on 2 years).

Note: Successful applicants need to prepare about RM1,000 as cost for the US Visa application and interview, and transport to and from home to KLIA which is not provided for.

Written by:

Rodney Tan Chai Whatt
English Head of Panel
SMK Methodist ACS
Jalan Tengkera
75200 Melaka.


Standing by the Eagle which aided man's landing on the Moon. The 4 wheel Rover is just beside the Eagle. Awesome!

I'm standing right underneath an actual Saturn V rocket engine that took man to the Moon and back. Look at the size of the most powerful machine ever built by man at that time.

Posing in my Flight Suit in front of the Space Shuttle cockpit model.

Assigned as the Head of the whole space mission based in the Command Flight Centre.

Being securely strapped to the Multi Axis Trainer by the facilitator. I had to remove my glasses and everything from my pockets to avoid my stuff from flying all over the place!

Building toys that were tested before in micro gravity (outer space).

My complete model rocket before the actual launching outdoors.

The Zip-line tower where we were attached to a zip-line and splashing into the shallow pond. We were also dunked into the water in that drum like carriage on the bottom left of the picture and later rescued in a basket to simulate a helicopter rescue. That's a Huey helicopter perched on top of the tower.

A very interesting quote to inspire boys. I remembered our Melaka State Education Department having a programme a few years ago to toughen up the boys in schools! We share the same aspiration!

The Dunking Machine where we were slowly lowered into the water almost to our neck and we had to swim out to a safe area for rescue. 

In the Science research lab of the International Space Station simulator. Posing with a Filipino and an American teachers.

Ed Buckbee giving an interesting talk on the Real Space Cowboys -- the very first astronauts chosen for the early space programme. He recounted the Space Race with the Russians and development of the Space Shuttle. One of the stories that caught my attention was about the special treatment received by the monkey that was sent into space.

Trying to create the illusion that I was holding up the Saturn V rocket.

Group photo of Team KIBO during the final night dinner and dance.

The band named Alley Cats providing live music while teachers dance the night away! Noticed the Eagle space vehicle behind the band? We had a great "let your hair down" fun time!


  1. Is d prog also for eng teachers?i thot it ws for math n sci teachers only

    1. I had other experiences as a Computer Club teacher and I taught English for Science and Technology as well. The main thing is to convince the selectors of your passion for for space and what you are going to do with the training given and after to return to your country.