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Annual Space Night attracts hundreds to Shaner School

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — In 2015 Joseph C. Shaner kindergarten teacher Suzanne Burnetta was notified that she was one of 21 instructors from the United States, and 34 teachers worldwide, to be accepted into the Space Foundation’s 31st Space Symposium which was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her acceptance provided an opportunity for her to become a liaison between that organization and the Hamilton Township School District.

There is no doubt that she has made the most of that opportunity.

On Friday, May 17 the school, under her guidance, hosted the fourth annual Space Night, an event that attracted more than 400 children and family members. The evening featured numerous interactive activities, demonstrations and industry speakers who shared their knowledge and professional experiences.

“It seems my vision for bringing space education to the children of our district is coming together,” Burnetta said. “Our Space Night has grown in the past 4 years and is so well liked by our community. This year we had over 400 attendees and we added two more missions run by ROTC students. The amazing part of adding those missions is that they had heard about our event and contacted me.”

“I am so fortunate to have our speakers come back to our event and volunteer their time to inspire our students. I am so grateful the Space Foundation flew Bernadette Maisel out to experience the magnitude of our event. I am confident when she reports back that they are going to be extremely impressed with the work I am doing as their teacher liaison supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.”

Maisel was indeed impressed.

“The Space Foundation is extremely supportive of STEM,” she said. “Attending the Shaner School’s fourth annual Space Night gave me the opportunity to see how one teacher’s vision in 2015 became a reality and has inspired hundreds of children to learn about space and STEM education.

“This event brought families in the community together for a night of fun, learning, inspiration and awareness of space exploration and its future in our technology driven era. As a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, Mrs. Burnetta utilized her resources within the community to engage students and spark their imaginations and interest through hands-on learning, inspiring speakers and a dynamic environment by transforming the entire Shaner School into a space theme.”

Shaner Principal Daniel Cartwright has been supportive of Burnetta’s mission.

“Just over four years ago Mrs. Burnetta came to me with this grand idea of bringing outer space experiences to the young students of the Shaner School,” he said. “After attending the Space Symposium in Colorado, Mrs. Burnetta came back with a vision for taking our students on a journey to space through a family night experience. Since the genesis of the idea, Space Night has become one of our regular Family Night events, culminating our annual Space Week where students explore space through Star Lab. Each year Mrs. Burnetta expands this event with new speakers and activities. The Space Foundation flew out a special visitor this year who came to document how our school is connecting students to space exploration.”

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