This year, 205 teachers from 24 countries, including 104 from 39 U.S. states and territories, attended the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy (HESA) in Huntsville, Ala., a game-changing experience designed to help middle school math and science teachers from around the world become more effective educators in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and encourage their students to pursue education and careers in these fields. Honeywell developed the award-winning scholarship program, in partnership with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC).
Honeywell Hometown Solutions President, Mike Bennett and Rep. Phil Williams, Member of the Alabama House of Representatives addressed the teachers at the graduation ceremony. Bob Witwer, Vice President, Advanced Technologies, Honeywell Aerospace and Barbara Brockett, Vice President, Engineering Test Services, Honeywell Aerospace also attended as the keynote speakers.
Over the years, the program has been responsible for some remarkable transformations among teachers globally. Kaci Heins, – an Arizona-based sixth grade teacher who attended in 2010 returned to the program this year as a HESA ambassador, recalls HESA as a game-changing experience which led her to do things differently. She now works closely with NASA and its astronauts; has sent her students’ experiments to the International Space Station; changed her student’s mindset towards STEM education; and won multiple educational state and national awards. “All,” she says, “started here at HESA.”
Martha Ines Mendoza, our Ambassador from Mexico could not have opened the famous ‘Rocket Club’ in Mexicali had she not attended HESA in 2010. Martha uses resources and training from HESA and teaches 5th to 9th grade students, introducing them to basic concepts of physics and math in a creative and engaging way, getting them interested in science, aerodynamics, and space engineering. Her Rocket club has reached more than 300 students, has become very popular in the local community and has a waitlist which is getting longer by the year.
Another HESA ambassador, Lakshmi Gandhi of India, received scholarships from universities in UK and USA as a result of the inspiration she says this program helped her find. “It was the first step in my thousand-mile journey,” she says, giving words to the experience the program hopes to create. Since 2007, she has been working closely with teachers and students in India to promote education in a more innovative and collaborative manner.
Since 2004, Honeywell has awarded scholarships to 2,381 teachers from 55 countries and 52 U.S. states and territories. These teachers have further inspired over two million students. From winning grants from local and federal governments, to entering students in international and NASA educational projects, to creating STEM-focused after school programs, the impact of HESA is continuing beyond the classroom.