New Delhi, Feb 5: It is a dream come true for Vandana Suryawanshi, a middle school teacher in Pune, who has been selected as the first international teacher for a prestigious US space education programme.
And she harbours another deep desire - That is going to space.
With an experience of over 20 years in teaching biology, earth science and general science, Suryawanshi has always been fascinated by the vastness of the universe and space.
Having received the Honeywell Educators at Space Scholarship, 46-year-old Suryawanshi will be exposed to more avenues in space science and start applying the knowledge and information gained there in her day-to-day classroom work.
Suryawanshi will soon join 19 other outstanding American educators who have also been selected for their active promotion of space and science education by the Space Foundation.
‘The effects of atmospheric pressure and gravity on human beings and plants on earth and in micro-gravity' will be the topic for her during the programme.
Suryawanshi draws her inspiration from Indra Nooyi, who started from a humble beginning and overcame all the obstacles to become the CEO of Pepsico. She has high regards for Kalpana Chawla for her fearlessness and determination.
She also gives credit to Nalini Sengupta, Principal at the Vidya Valley School in Pune, where she has been teaching for last five years, describing her as a pillar of strength.
“She is enthusiastic, committed and willing to learn,” said Sengupta when asked about Suryawanshi.
Asked if she would like to go to space, Suryawanshi said of course. “I will certainly grab such an opportunity.”
On how she finds time to pursue her interests,
Suryawanshi, also mother of two daughters, said, “I spend more quality than quantity time with my family members during dinner. So, I have ample time to pursue my interests.”
Suryawanshi wants to continue teaching students in the age group of 14-16 years as she thinks that there she can make an impact on their learning.
“These students have an enormous enthusiasm to learn and this is a motivating factor for me,” she added.
This is for the first time that an international teacher has been selected for the prestigious fellowship of the Space Foundation, which is now 10-year-old.
The new flight of Teacher Liaison will serve as advocates for space-themed education across the curriculum and will help its fellows to use Space Foundation-provided training and resources to further integrate space principles into work.
The highly regarded Space Foundation Teacher Liaison programme has more than 270 active participants.
The teachers are selected by a panel comprising representatives from the space industry and military.
The 2012 Teacher Liaison will be publicly recognised at the Space Foundation's 28th National Space Symposium, scheduled from April 16 to 19 in Colorado.
Besides getting recognition , the 2012 Teacher Liaison will allow participants to share their views in workshops and education programmes at the 28th National Space Symposium.
Following the symposium, Teacher Liaison can take advantage of specialised training and instruction at Space Foundation and NASA workshops with optional graduate-level credit.