If you think life on Mars is just an idea in outer space, students at Washington Academy in Belvidere would disagree. With the help of their teacher Mrs. Joy Bauman, a group of accelerated learning students are using her knowledge and expertise to study the future of the planet.
"It was either a teacher of an astronaut," says Mrs. Joy Bauman, on her career choice.
She may have chosen a more grounded profession, but she hasn't left behind her childhood passion for space. As a 4th and 5th grade accelerated learning teacher, she's challenging her students with a big project, researching Mars.
"They target what they want to research," says Bauman. "They gather their pictures, and then the information that they find actually goes back and becomes part of NASA's knowledge of Mars, so they're actually looking at possible places we can live on Mars someday."
The kids work directly with Arizona State University's NASA office, as a part of the Mars student imaging project, writing a letter to NASA asking to use a camera on the Odyssey shuttle in space.
Zayn and Raif Ramdass nominated Bauman for Teacher of the Week, and love the project!
"We get really cool projects, and she teaches really well in a way that we can understand," 5th grader Raif Ramdass says. "And it's not hard."
Others agree that it's difficult work, but appreciate their teachers patience and ability to make things seem easier.
"We read some things that are made on a college level, so then she makes it easier for us to understand it," says one student.
Taking a look around her office, you see her passion for the outside world. And remember the Odyssey launch back in 2001? She was there for it. But while the passion is still alive, she focuses her attention on her students right her on planet earth.
"We have to give them credit, more credit than we do sometimes for what they can accomplish, just always pushing them to do something a little bit deeper than what they thought they were capable of," Bauman says.