Munster teacher takes students on armchair trip into space

2013-11-21T18:30:00Z 2014-04-02T15:37:34Z Munster teacher takes students on armchair trip into spaceCarmen McCollum, (219) 662-5337

MUNSTER | A Munster High School teacher is bringing her experience at NASA into the classroom, taking her students on an armchair trip to outer space.

Cara Germann was one of 30 teachers across the country chosen to be an Educator Ambassador for NASA's MAVEN satellite mission. MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution. Another Indiana teacher chosen for the program was Candice Kissenger who teaches in the Lafayette School Corp.

More than 110 teachers applied for the opportunity. Germann said the 30 educators spent a week in July at the Berkeley Science Lab in Berkeley, Calif., learning about the mission from the scientists who helped develop three of the instruments on the satellite and will be analyzing the data MAVEN collects.

Germann then went to the Kennedy Space Center from Saturday through Tuesday to watch NASA officials launch the MAVEN satellite on an Atlas V rocket. Germann told the students the satellite's mission is to study Mars' atmosphere. The launch was on Monday. It will take 10 months for MAVEN to arrive on Mars.

"It was a little cloudy as you can see, but the launch went off perfectly," Germann told the students with a big smile.

"It was really cool, especially the countdown to launch," she said. "Everyone was so excited. It was amazing to watch."

Over the next nine weeks, Germann's students will study a space unit. She said the information she gathered during a visit to NASA will fit in perfectly with the unit.

"We'll be looking at not just planets but the study of solar wind and how it affects Mars' atmosphere," she said.

Germann also was one of four teacher ambassadors who put together an educational webinar with activities geared to middle school students that can be adapted for high school or elementary students.

Germann hopes her experience instills an excitement for earth science and space.

"I want students to see my passion for it. It's a good hook to get their attention. The people I've met and the connections I've made with NASA and the Berkeley Science Lab mean I can get questions answered and get information," she said.

Sophomore Kaila Crague, 15, deemed the presentation interesting.

"I like learning about earth and space. I'm glad she was chosen for this. It was very cool to watch," Crague said.

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