Some future teachers took a class this summer to learn how to use NASA's huge warehouse of educational resources to interest students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Twenty-nine university students, who are preparing to be teachers, were part of the two-week NASA Langley Research Center Pre-Service Teacher Institute at the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in Hampton. This year's class, which ran from July 18-29, featured a number of people who have switched careers, including engineers and former military members. The institute's theme was "Press Release Science and Math" – how teachers can help turn current events into STEM lessons.
"NASA has a lot of content that teachers can use in their classrooms," said Thom Pinelli, University Affairs Officer for NASA Langley's education team. "We want to help educators integrate that material into their standards-based lesson plans and in turn excite students about science, technology, engineering and math. It's NASA's hope that more of them will choose STEM careers, then work with us to explore the universe, advance aviation and study earth and atmospheric science."
The 2011 Pre-Service Teacher Institute attracted students from Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, New Jersey and Florida. They were selected from a pool of applicants based on their exemplary junior/senior level university status, faculty recommendations and ability to attend the full two-week program. Participants were asked to complete pre-assigned work and will continue to collaborate after the institute is over with the help of an online network.
NIA Educators in Residence, including educational lead Becky Jaramillo, recipient of the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, taught attendees interactive lessons they can use in the classroom.
"The student teachers walked out of here with the ability to make science, technology, engineering and math more relevant to the next generation," said Jaramillo. "They have a virtual library of hands-on resources that highlight what's next for NASA."
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