School may be out for summer, but Apex Middle School teacher Mark Hipps won’t be putting away the pencils and books just yet.
The sixth grade science teacher will attend the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy program in Huntsville, Ala. Hipps will join the more than 1,650 teachers who have had this unique experience since the program’s inception in 2004.
Hipps said he had no idea the opportunity to go to the space academy was even available until a student’s parent that works for Honeywell contacted him with the link. He applied and was accepted into the program.
Honeywell provides everything for the teachers accepted into the program, including airfare.
During the intensive learning at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Hipps will have 45 hours of professional development and intensive educator curriculum geared toward space science. He will take part in a high-performance jet simulation, scenario-based space mission, land and water survival training and interactive flight dynamics programs.
“I’m very excited,” Hipps said. “When you teach science, you want to bring as much experience to the students as possible.”
It’s the experience and the excitement about space that Hipps wants to bring back to his classroom and to the other science teachers at Apex Middle. He said having a hands-on approach to science can help teachers do their job more effectively.
“I do have really high expectations for this,” Hipps said.
But this isn’t the first outside training Hipps has received to improve his teaching skills. He said he often looks for opportunities during the summer months to give him an advantage during the school year. With workshops on technology and brain exploration, he has been able to physically explain topics to students.
During the unit he teaches about the brain, he allows students to hold a sheep’s brain.
“That tends to make a big impact on them,” Hipps said.
But doing supplemental training is something that many teachers do over the summer, Hipps said, and most don’t get publicity for their efforts. But, he is proud to say he works for Apex Middle where he gets a lot of encouragement for seeking out opportunities to better his teaching skills.
“It’s a great school,” Hipps said. “Everyone’s very supportive.”
He also is grateful for the opportunity from Honeywell.
“Like myself, teachers would take advantage of opportunities like this if they knew about them, and it was economically feasible.”
Contact Kelly Griffith at email@example.com or 919-552-5675.