NASA Teams Up With Teachers in Space Program for STEM Education


Dallas, TX – The nonprofit Teachers in Space program has been selected by NASA to create an innovative professional-development program for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers.

“The NASA Education Office has selected Teachers in Space for funding under NASA’s K-12 Cooperative Agreement Notice,” Teachers in Space project manager Edward Wright said today. “Under this cooperative agreement, Teachers in Space will receive approximately $400,000 in funding and work with NASA to take STEM education to a new level.”

Under the cooperative agreement, Teachers in Space will conduct a series of professional-development workshops for high-school STEM teachers during the summer of 2011 and 2012. The workshops will take place in various states including California, Florida, and Texas.

The new workshops will build on the existing Teachers in Space program. Teachers in Space is working with the US companies that are now developing fully reusable suborbital spacecraft for science and commercial applications. The goal of Teachers in Space is to enable large numbers of teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom. The first seven Pathfinder astronaut teacher candidates were announced by Teachers in Space on July 20, 2009 at NASA Ames Research Center. “We want to put a thousand astronaut teachers into American classrooms in the next decade,” Wright said.

Teachers in Space is designed to attract the best and the brightest to the teaching profession and retain highly qualified teachers by creating exciting new incentives. At the same time, that excitement will flow down to students, along with the first-hand knowledge teachers gain from their spaceflight experiences. “We want to make teachers heroes,” said Teachers in Space education director Donald McMahon.

The teachers participating in the workshops under the cooperative agreement will not fly into space, but they will experience some of training being developed by Teachers in Space for astronaut teachers. “In one workshop, teachers will learn to fly a suborbital flight simulator with former Shuttle astronaut and XCOR Aerospace chief test pilot Rick Searfoss,” Wright said. “In another, they can build an experiment that will fly aboard a Masten Space Systems or Armadillo Aerospace vehicle. These are among the companies that are now developing the low-cost, fully reusable vehicles that will bring about a revolution in spaceflight and permit people from all walks of life, including teachers, to fly in space.”

The professional-development workshops to be conducted under the cooperative agreement will focus on suborbital science, suborbital flight, and space medicine and human factors. To conduct these workshops, Teachers in Space has assembled a team that includes members from NASA, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Space Education Initiatives, and other organizations, as well as the Space Frontier Foundation, the Teachers in Space parent organization.

“We have assembled an exceptionally strong, highly experienced team whose accomplishments range from commanding Space Shuttle missions to Emmy-Award winning television productions,” Wright said. “The NASA Education Office recognized our proposal as among ‘the most innovative approaches, with promising outcomes and alignment to NASA.’ We look forward to a very exciting and productive partnership with NASA over the next two years.”