Posted on: 07/23/2015

Teachers test egg drop, model rockets at UT aerosp

Teachers test egg drop, model rockets at UT aerospace workshop As model rockets sped skyward, all eyes turned upward in anticipation. Less than an hour before, sneakers with colorful duct tape, a combination of Styrofoam cups and bubble wrap and other handmade vessels protected eggs for a drop from the top of Nielson Physics Building. Every egg survived the fall intact. This summer marks 20 years of the University of Tennessee Aerospace Education Teacher Workshop, a partnership between UT and the Civil Air Patrol. Its the only program of its kind sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol in Tennessee, and organizers hope it becomes a national model. On Wednesday, the teacher participants got to be students again. "Theyre just big kids," said Paul Lewis, director of the planetarium and space science outreach at UT, who teaches astronomy and model rocket building at the workshop. He said the workshop allows the teachers to relax and be excited about the same projects they ask their students to do. More than 400 K-12 teachers have participated in the three-week program funded by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission, which allows them to earn graduate school credit. Teachers try activities, learn about available resources and go on field trips, including to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Learning about the resources available to teachers from that center and elsewhere has been especially helpful, said participant Lauren Migun, a math teacher at Bearden High School. Migun said shes looking for ways to incorporate engineering into her math curriculum and give real-world applications. The more senses involved in learning, the more students remember, so hands-on learning is an effective way to do that, said Lt. Col. Dave Garner, director of aerospace education for the southeast region of the Civil Air Patrol. Garner, the workshop founder, said usually about half the eggs break in the egg drop. But the experiment challenges teachers to think like engineers and then take that approach back to the classroom. "Thats the first time weve ever had 100 percent (survive intact)". Sam Warwick, an engineering teacher at Heritage High School, said a rocket launch is a visual way to ask students to solve problems. He said he tries experiments with students. Sometimes his ideas work, and sometimes they dont. The same goes for ideas from the students. "Its when things dont work that you learn the most," Warwick said."Everybody benefits from problem solving."