Howard spreads science savvy from Educator Space Academy
MADISON – Bonnie Howard is sharing her motivation after attending Educator Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Howard teaches sixth-grade earth science at Madison Elementary School.
Dr. Tim Scott with Northrop Grumman Corporation selected Howard to receive an academy grant. Smith wanted a teacher with innovative approaches to science and a commitment to apply ‘lessons learned’ in the classroom.
“Educator Space Academy was a truly inspiring experience,” Howard said. “I left ‘on fire’ for science education and a desire to share my experience.”
“What science geek doesn’t enjoy having their own flight suit?” Howard said about her excitement upon arrival. “Little did I know that this was only the beginning of what would prove to be a week of amazing and inspiring activities.”
Howard and fellow teachers designed a roller coaster, water purification system and “an ablative of shield with aluminum foil and sponges that would protect a raw egg from a three-minute blowtorch blast.”
“This type of hands-on, experimental engineering design activity was thrilling to me as an adult. How much more so it would be for my students,” Howard said.
A speech by Homer Hickam, author of “Rocket Boys,” had the most impact for Howard. “He was a terrible math student as a child but was passionate about rockets,” she said.
“I had an epiphany. If I can find out what my students are passionate about, I can help them realize the connection to math and science,” she said.
Howard is collaborating with sixth-grade teachers Shannon Lilienthal, Laura Ruffin and Meredith Brewer for “Innovation Day” on Dec. 17. Students will correlate a personal interest with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).
Howard received a bachelor’s degree in industrial hygiene at the University of North Alabama and worked numerous years as a Madison County Health Department inspector. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
Her husband Chris works as a senior software developer for Asteria Solutions Group. Their daughter June is a UNA freshman. Son Price is a Bob Jones High School freshman.