Lake teacher headed for space camp
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 27 April 2013 08:33
MILLBURY - Heather Janes should just keep her microscope and solar system models packed in a suitcase.
|Lake fifth-grade science teacher Heather Janes working with Haley Terry, during science class. Janes will be attending a space camp this summer for teachers. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The fifth-grade science teacher at Lake Elementary has been selected to go to her second consecutive summer camp. She's headed to Honeywell Educators Space Academy in Alabama in June, where she'll train like an astronaut and get her very own space suit.
"I'm one of 400 people internationally that are going," said Janes, who has been described as a "science geek" by her principal, Christy McPherson.
She praised Janes for her go-getter attitude and spirit of cooperation. McPherson said Janes often works with other teachers to combine lessons.
"She's definitely on top of her game," McPherson said.
Last summer, Janes was picked to attend the Mickelson ExxonMobile Teachers Academy in New Jersey. It was started by golfer Phil Mickelson, his wife Amy and the company.
The company, Janes said, puts on the summer academy to get teachers excited about science. Then they'll take their enthusiasm into the classroom.
"ExxonMobile is really hurting for people, really hurting in the engineering fields."
If kids aren't excited about science by middle school, she said the company theorized, they'll never choose a science career.
Here's one of the experiments that she took from ExxonMobile back to her classroom: Stack a beaker with a little water in it, a pizza pan, tubes - then top it off with an egg or a bouncy ball. The problem: How do you get the egg into the beaker? (Hint: It involves a broom.)
The experiments, Janes said, got her students talking about force, design and how to solve a problem.
Janes, who is from Lorain, has a double license bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Bowling Green State University. She started out teaching special education, but grew into the science field.
Teaching at a little school like Lake with limited financial resources, Janes said she realized she was going to have to create her own opportunities for her and her students if she was going to expand their horizons - and hers - in science.
"There's got to be more out there for me, but the benefit is my classroom gets it, too."
In addition to the national grants, she's also sought out local support. One year, when Janes thought field trips might be cut from the Lake budget, she contacted representatives from Jones-Hamilton and First Solar, which ended up sponsoring class excursions.
"The kids actually got to meet chemists and safety people."
She's leading a group of 16 Lake fourth and fifth-graders in the Pringles Challenge. Meeting in the mornings before school, they are devising a way to ship a single Pringles without breaking the chip to their partner classroom in North Carolina.
This fall, Janes was "lunar certified" through the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. With the certification, her class receives a set of acrylic disks containing samples of debris, dirt and rock from outer space. She's also a two-time recipient of a Target field trip grant and has also been awarded a Pets in the Classroom grant.
Over the last few years, she's developed a network of science colleagues on the Internet and in social media that she can pose questions to or inquire about programs and funding.
Janes and her husband, Andrew, also a teacher, are raising two daughters and live in Bowling Green. In her spare time and to keep active, she takes an adult tap dance class.
Science and teaching are never far from her mind. Janes said when she first started teaching, she used to sleep with a notepad and pen next to her bed in case she woke up in the middle of the night with an idea.
"My brain just doesn't shut off."
Now she's got the constant-thinking process down to texting herself a memo if something piques her interest and she wants to Google it later.
"I feel like I'm in a groove. I know what I'm doing. I'm pretty self-sufficient but I'm not afraid to ask for help."