Other lessons included “Martian Nation,” which focused on factorials, probability and order of operations; “Space Gardening,” which taught participants how to grow plants in space without the use of soil; and “Rocket Construction,” which allowed participants to design and launch water bottle rockets.
Sturch said she is an advocate for increasing students' knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and has written grants to government officials requesting additional funding for those subjects in public schools.
For students to become interested in STEM subjects, teachers must be excited to teach those subjects, she said.
“How can students become interested or excited in a subject if the way the teacher introduces it to her classroom is boring, monotone or without any confidence in her own knowledge?” Sturch asked.
“These subjects aren't just intimidating to students, they are intimidating to teachers as well. We need to make sure we've mastered the subject and are excited about it before we even introduce it to our students.”
Bryant Elementary Principal Kristen Kuepker said she was delighted that one of the teachers from her school was selected for the space academy.
“Anytime you can get kids excited about what you're teaching, it's always a benefit to them. If they are learning in a hands-on way by a teacher who is genuinely excited about the material, they are going to have a more vested interest in that subject. Those are going to be the lessons they'll remember,” Kuepker said.
Sturch said on her free time she enjoys looking for professional development opportunities. Of those she's attended, she said, space academy has been her favorite.
“This summer was amazing. I had the time of my life,” she said.