Luke McKinley, a science teacher at Chase STEMM Academy, has been chosen to participate this summer in the prestigious Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy.

Mr. McKinley recently learned that he is one of the 70 educators chosen  -- out of 2,800 who applied -- to participate in the five-day program that will be held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The center is one of the most comprehensive U.S. manned space flight hardware museums in the world.

During the Space Academy, Mr. McKinley and his fellow educators will participate in 45 hours of intensive classroom, laboratory and training time, focusing on space science and exploration. A small sampling of what's in store for them include simulated astronaut training exercises, high-performance jet simulations, scenario-based space missions and flying programs. Whether they're performing experiments in the lab, repairing satellites, or adding a module to the International Space Station, all of the educational simulations are realistic. The teachers will also participate in two simulated Space Shuttle Missions where they might be a mission specialist, the flight director, the commander or the shuttle pilot.

Mr. McKinley, who has been a TPS teacher for 15 years and who coaches the Lego League teams at Chase, said he became interested in attending the Space Academy after attending the 2014 Mickelson/Exxon Mobil teachers Academy.

"I applied because as a Science support teacher at Chase, I am always looking for opportunities to allow myself to better my instruction and bring exciting quality hands-on STEM lessons to our students," he says. "On top of all the amazing things I will encounter at the Space Academy, I am looking forward to be able to bring back and share the experiences and knowledge with the students and staff at Chase."

He adds, "One of the really cool things about the Space Academy is I will get to meet, learn from and get to network with teachers from all over the world."

Mr. McKinley says he is particularly proud that he will be representing Toledo Public Schools at the academy.

"I have a lot of pride for TPS as it is a big part of my family's life," he notes, with two sisters currently working for the district (as a sixth grade Riverside Elementary teacher and as an Ottawa River Elementary counselor). "And both my father and grandmother had 30+ years in at TPS before retiring."

The whole idea behind the Space Academy is to allow educators "the opportunity to reinvigorate their classrooms with ideas, lessons and other materials to create an unforgettable learning experience for the next generation of scientists."

Created in partnership with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC), this professional development program is designed to help middle school math and science teachers from around the world become more effective educators in science, technology, engineering, and math. Educators are empowered with supplemental teaching techniques through simulated astronaut training and innovative educational tools that help bring science to life in the classroom.

Since 2004, more than 2,375 educators from 55 countries and 52 U.S. states and territories have graduated from the program.

Updated on February 19, 2016