Teacher workshop at the Museum of Aviation focuses on blacks in aviation

wcrenshaw@macon.comJanuary 12, 2013 

Once a month, teachers come to the Museum of Aviation for training aimed at inspiring student interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

This month’s program, held Saturday, was also aimed at inspiring student interest in the achievements of blacks in aviation. Teachers learned about the 16 black people who have served as astronauts, as well as the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first black military aviators.

The workshop is put on each month by the museum’s NASA Regional Educator Resource Center, which assists teachers throughout Georgia. Center administrator Clare Swinford said this month’s theme “Black Stars in Orbit” was chosen to help teachers prepare lessons for Black History Month, which is in February.

They took a short field trip over to the World War II Hangar, where they were given a tour of the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit.

Tina Jackson, a Northside Middle School language arts teacher, has been a regular attendee to the workshops, but Saturday was the first time she had been to the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit and she was impressed.

“I have a lot of black male students who are inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen,” she said.

Swinford said many of the teachers who attend the workshop, like Jackson, are not math or science teachers. Teachers of all subjects attend, because it all relates to what they teach in some way, she said.

Jackson said she tries to get across to her students, for example, that language is necessary in whatever they might want to accomplish, including aviation.

Tera Roberson, a science teacher at Union Elementary School in Bibb County, said she enjoyed hands-on activities at the workshop that she can take back to her classroom to make science fun for students. Those included designing balloon powered cars, and designing a craft to move marbles from one end of the room to the other.

“It shows that several different minds can work on the same project and come up with numerous ways to get the job done,” she said. “That’s what we try to teach students is that there is no single right way to do things, that you can use your imagination and the results can be fantastic.”

The training also included a session on the Underground Railroad. It showed how teachers can relate it to science and math by showing such things as how the North Star and maps were used to navigate the escape route for slaves.

The daylong workshop was at its capacity of 36 teachers, all from Middle Georgia. The workshop, however, is open to teachers from anywhere in the state. Not only is it free for teachers, but they get a $50 stipend. Funding comes from NASA and other sources. College students taking education classes can also attend.

Lester Morales, a NASA educator specialist from the Kennedy Space Center, led part of the workshop.

“The purpose of my program is to bring NASA to remote locations where the center is too far for people to come to,” he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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