Thursday, August 26, 2010

Teachers turn to NASA for Inspiration

With a desire to learn more about aerospace technology, eight teachers gave up part of their summer vacation this year to come to NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and become students themselves. The teachers visited Ames as part of the Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development Program with hopes of learning about technology so they could increase their students’ enthusiasm in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Enthusiasm is contagious. We’re hoping that these teachers go home with a passion for technology that they can share with their students,” said Tom Clausen, Education Specialist at NASA Ames.

Many of the teachers came to Ames from schools that were falling behind academically, and the teachers hoped to be a part of helping students at those schools learn effectively.

“Our school, Wakefieild Middle School, has been labeled as underachieving,” said Denise LaClair from Tucson, Ariz. “I want Wakefield Middle School to become one of the premiere schools in Tucson,and I want to have a role in helping achieve this dream.”

LaClair is interested in learning new techniques to help students learn and fully understand complex concepts.

“It is amazing how research is showing educators new ways of presenting material and making it relevant to students and applying that in my classroom to engage all students in discovery and learning. Seeing a student’s eyes light up with understanding, use appropriate vocabulary in context, or tell me how much they love programming the rotor in my class really makes my day,” said LaClair.

LaClair is not alone in her love of teaching. The teachers who attended the program all said they enjoyed seeing the reaction of a young student who suddenly understands a concept.

“I enjoy working with young minds and seeing their reactions when they learn concepts. I enjoy helping support my students during such an important time in their development,” said Carolyn Jones from Sahuaro High School in Tucson, Ariz.

These teachers know that the students they are teaching are our future technical work force.

“I enjoy being in a position to impact young people today who will make an impact on the world tomorrow,” said John Sterling from Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Miami, Fla. “I have a unique opportunity to change lives,” added Clara Hall Brown from Miami Central Senior High School in Miami, Fla.

These eight teachers learned about this opportunity different ways – through flyers, their principals, or friends at other schools. They came with the same motivation – to learn more about how to teach their students as effectively as possible. They left with a new understanding of how to approach technical concepts in the classroom.

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