Shuttle Launch: Notes from Cape Canaveral
Reunion at Cape Canaveral
By Dr. Cyndi Osterhus
Nearly 60 of the Teacher in Space finalists from 1985 gathered yesterday (August 5) in the Dolphin Room in a large hotel in Cocoa Beach. The energy and excitement was less than our first gathering in Washington, but quickly intensified as old friends were recognized and people began to talk about what they are doing now — "Once a teacher, always a teacher!"
While many of these educators are now retired, they are still serving education as consultants. superintendents, directors or CEO's of their own initiatives, or as professors in colleges and universities. NASA estimates that this group of teachers has touched more than 10 million people in their 23 years as ambassadors for NASA.
Last night, NASA 'gave back' to the Teacher in Space finalists who gathered here in Florida with a reception in the Apollo Center of the Kennedy Space Fight Center and a special trip to Launch Pad 39A where Endeavor stands awaiting the launch of STS 118 on Wednesday evening (Aug. 8). As a friend and I looked at the shuttle from only a few hundred yards away she said, "It still gives me goosebumps." Indeed it did!
The reception was a wonderful opportunity for the Teacher in Space finalists to meet and network with other teachers from across the country who are working with NASA in the new Educators Astronaut Program. These teachers serve a role similar to the role of the Teacher in Space finalists, inspiring young people's interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as well as encouraging inquiry and exploration. Beneath the 370-foot Saturn V replica, the teachers mingled excitedly with the Deputy Director of NASA and former astronaut, Robert Springer. Today (Aug. 6), the Teacher in Space finalists will have a close encounter with Joe Allen, one of the first to experience an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity), on the small platform of the robotic arm. Allen was with the Teacher in Space finalists in Washington in 1985, along with members of the crew of the Challenger mission.
This evening is a gathering of Barbara Morgan's family and friends followed by a beach party for the Teacher in Space finalists and their families.