HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – In April of 2015 Joseph C. Shaner Elementary School teacher Suzanne Burnetta attended the Space Foundation’s 31st Space Symposium held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Following a comprehensive selection process, she was chosen as one of 21 instructors from the United States and 34 worldwide to be accepted into the program.

“This was such a great honor to be selected,” Burnetta said. “The Space Symposium is a global event that helps inform educators about space and S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) so that we can bring that knowledge back to our districts.”

Since returning from the symposium, Burnetta has utilized the knowledge she gained to host an annual Space Night program at her school.

Each spring hundreds of students and their family members attended the event where they visited numerous classrooms in which they had the opportunity to learn about astronomy and space travel through hands-on projects and presentations from expert industry representatives.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burnetta was unable to host the event this year. But she did the next best thing. She created an online Space Night presentation that includes 31 interactive slides that debuted on Friday, June 5.

“As the teacher liaison for the Space Foundation it was my dream to bring a space night to the children of our district,” Burnetta said. “For the past 4 years we hosted a space night and have received great feedback. It has become an event the students look forward to each year.”

“This year would have been our fifth annual space night, however due to the schools being closed, we were unfortunately not be able to host this event. Our principal, Mr. Cartwright asked if we could hold a virtual space night this year and I jumped right on board and worked diligently with staff members and the Space Foundation to create our first virtual space night.”

Nicole Mendolera’s son Joe, a student in Burnetta’s class, participated in the program. “He loved space night, especially all the crafts,” she said. “His favorite was the Fizzy Moon Rocks. He can’t wait to make them again. Virtual Space Night was fun, but we can’t wait to attend actual Space Night next year.”

Jaison Reitter’s son Jaxson also enjoyed the presentation. “He really learned so much about space,” Jaison Reitter said. “His favorite was Mars and the largest volcano and canyon in the galaxy. He also enjoyed the dwarf planet Pluto and its moons named after Greek mythology.”

“I am so grateful that even with the trying times we were able to continue with our space night legacy and provide the children with a fun-filled space night adventure,” Burnetta said. “We look forward to having our sixth annual space night next year.”

The presentation can be found on the school’s website at Shaner.HamiltonSchools.org.

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