Christmas Space Science Project is 'food fun' for Ennis Students

By Patty Hullett
For the Mirror

A school teacher often never knows the long-range effects their teaching methods and learned lessons might reach these days. And with social media as additional options, it’s even easier to see how quickly things done in the classroom can be shared in the most unrehearsed and unusual ways.

Such is the case of an Ellis County school teacher, as he traveled to the Ennis Walmart store on Tuesday, Dec. 8, to pick up some rather strange supplies for his class at Ennis High School.

A local lady bus driver, Ms. Nelda (Bills) Clark was in the checkout line near the young man. As they stood there waiting to pay for their goods, Clark asked the gentleman a couple of questions. The following is what she posted on her Facebook account later on that afternoon when she returned home from her shopping expedition: “Just saw the neatest thing…..a science teacher for EHS was up here buying a whole bunch of stuff… first I said making s’mores? -- but he said no…..instead, he found out a bunch of his kids have never made gingerbread houses…..but instead of houses.....he printed out a model of the International Space Station…..and he's having a contest between his students to see who can build the best one for a prize.”

After reading Clark’s post, this reporter quickly got online and tracked down the teacher

responsible for the interesting Christmas-related tidbit shared via social media. It only took a couple of emails and texts, and the teacher was identified as Mr. Cody Fults, a third year instructor at Ennis High School who teaches AP Physics 1 and Earth and Space Science, a new course on campus.

Fults says, “Actually I’m a teacher and a leader for one of our EHS programs called JETS (Junior Engineering and Technical Society) ... I recently found out that a lot of my students have never built a gingerbread house at Christmas time. To give my kids that special holiday experience, and to stay within the guidelines of my teaching model for my class called Earth and Space Science, I decided to print off copies of the International Space Station (ISS) and have the students compete to build the best gingerbread/ graham cracker models for a special prize.”

“For this project, our ‘JETS’, voted on this activity from various science demonstrations and projects at our Thanksgiving meeting," he added. "From being a part of this school-sponsored club, the students learn about the different modules, countries, and science experiments conducted on the ISS with this project. The Ennis group finished out their special class activities on Friday, Dec. 11, by voting during our virtual student day by teachers throughout the high school." The winning team was announced that afternoon and included Jessica Dixon, Heather Campbell and Jack Williamson, who won a small trophy for their efforts, Fults said. 

“‘JETS’ has been at Ennis High School for several years”, relays Fults, “and this is my third year as their sponsor. We work to promote science and engineering through group activities and science demonstrations. We host the science showcase at Ennis High School in the spring and have worked to include other activities at the elementary campuses. Our biggest traditional project is to visit the NASA Johnson Space Center in the spring, a very big draw to so many of our students who are interested in space and astronomy." Fults said the JETS group includes 9th- to 12th-graders with varying backgrounds and interests in science and engineering.

Fults is a 2010 graduate of nearby Waxahachie High School. He has a BA in Biology from University of Texas at Arlington and he is currently working on his master's degree in education leadership through Schreiner University.

“This is crazy how this story was brought to fruition, but I am so thrilled to be able to spotlight and show off some of the positive stuff my students are learning,” Fults said.