PCS teachers, student awarded scholarships for Space Academy

PELHAM – One student and two teachers from Pelham City Schools were awarded scholarships by the Alabama State Legislature to attend Space Academy in June at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

John Vincent

Anna Welborn

Anna Welborn, a Pelham Park Middle seventh grader, was selected to participate in the Space Academy for Leading Students in Alabama, and Pelham Ridge fifth grade math and science teachers John Vincent and Scott Mains were selected to attend the Alabama Space Academy for Educators.

The scholarships were funded through the State of Alabama Legislature. The legislature selects one male and one female student from each legislative district to attend the camp, and full-time educators in public school systems throughout the state are eligible to apply for a scholarship. The scholarships cover tuition, room and board, meals, educational materials and a flight suit.

During the weeklong Space Academy program, students will learn the history of the space program, learn to work together as a team to solve complex problems using science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts and critical thinking, learn to train like an astronaut using authentic simulators and embark on their own simulated space mission to the International Space Station, the Moon or Mars.

This goal of the experience is to inspire students to get engaged in mathematics and science, while exposing them to career paths in the aerospace industry and beyond where STEM and 21st century learning skills are used.

Welborn said she’s looking forward to attending camp because she loves science.

“I really like hands-on assignments, like the ones we do in chemistry,” she said.

Welborn said she’s not sure what career path she’d like to take, but she’s hoping this experience will help her figure out what she’d like to do when she grows up.

The Space Academy for teachers uses the format of astronaut training to convey new ways of teaching STEM concepts to students. The hands-on learning activities are designed to be easily replicated in the classroom. The activities are geared to span fourth through ninth grade.

“This will be my first time attending a space camp,” Vincent said. “I was interested in doing it as a kid, but I never thought I’d be in my 40s doing it.”

Vincent said he’s looking forward to networking with other educators and learning new techniques to bring back to his classroom.

“I just want to bring some excitement to my lessons for the kids,” he said. “If I immerse myself in learning and have fun while doing it, that will make it easier for me to bring that same energy to my classroom.

“This is a really great opportunity,” he added. “It’s wonderful that they even have scholarships available to us. It’s just really exciting.”