What if you come for a shuttle launch and the shuttle doesn’t launch?
A waste of time? Hardly. My trip made people where I’m from more aware of the what school could become. Our local paper did a short article, and although I was supposed to Skype in an interview (the usual “convention effect” bogged the internet to a crawl) I did do a phone interview with a TV station as well. Even before I left on my trip I was asked by teachers and parents to explain what I was doing and what educational impact it could possibly make … so I had those conversations too.
Most importantly I connected with my students and other classrooms, and shared what was going on. It could have been much better. I could have streamed video of some of the events and provided virtual tours of what I saw. I had planned to Skype as well. But between not having someone at my school that could assist on that end, and my concern about bandwidth at an event attended by mega-geeks with big cameras requiring huge file downloads, I knew that would be problematic. That didn’t matter. Through Flickr and our class blog, and wikis to a lesser extent, I connected and assigned writings and research and have a backlog of lesson ideas for science (Spiders In Space! Oh my!) and creative writing and more. When I return to class on Monday we can follow through and expand on what was started.
I might mention that my students are just a bit excited and motivated about the entire experience. Coming into class in the morning to see what I had already left for them on their blogs. To open up Flickr and view the photos I’d posted and continually updated. And then finding out online about things I was seeing and they were seeing pictures of often within minutes of me taking them. Monday I can add the stories behind the pictures and my postings, and in doing so I will be as excited as they are and we will get each other fired up to learn even more.
Tweetup attendees heard from astronauts that have flown on the shuttle. Had the “Spiders In Space” experiment shared with us by the scientist leading the program. The NASA meteorologist explained the weather patterns that effect spaceflight, and on and on.
Being part of the Tweetup also grants you access through your “semi” press badge through guard gates to places most visitors only see from afar. The air-conditioned tent they had set up for us was maybe 100 meters from here:
The Vehicle Assembly Building where the parts of the space shuttle are put together. We got access inside. Besides being amazed at the vastness of the place, you could just grab a glimpse of the Atlantis Shuttle that will launch (the last shuttle launch) scheduled for later this summer where it is being held in place as it is being readied for it’s last trip.
Of course I’m disappointed in not experiencing the launch (there is one more … Hmmm), but this was far from a wasted trip! It was just another messy learning experience!
Learning is messy!