The year 2010 marks the twenty-first consecutive year that teachers from around the country increase their knowledge of space education through the LiftOff Summer Institute. Blanco resident, Andrea Perez, was one of the educators selected to participate in this year’s program.
LiftOff 2010 Design a Space Mission, a collaborative effort of Texas Space Grant Consortium members and affiliates, NASA, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and industry, are workshops organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs. The program combines the strengths of collaborators to enrich teaching and learning of science, mathematics, and technology.
The weeklong series included workshops, hands-on activities, and field trips, featuring presentations by NASA scientists and astronauts working on various missions. The week included presentations from engineers at Johnson Space Center featuring all phases of space mission design, from past missions to upcoming exploration missions. The week began with NASA engineer, Tom Hansen who spoke about “Why We Go to Space.” Astronaut Clayton Anderson previously spent a 152 day tour of duty aboard the International Space Station where he performed 3 spacewalks. In April he launched on the STS-131 Space Shuttle Discovery which executed a resupply mission to the ISS, launching at night from Kennedy Space Center. Anderson performed 3 EVAs during this mission and logged 20 hours and 17 minutes of extravehicular activity. The STS-131 mission was accomplished in 15 days, 2 hours, 47 minutes, 10 seconds, and traveled 6,232,234 statute miles over 238 orbits.
Lunar and Planetary Institute scientist, Walter Keifer, provided background information about the formation of the moon and what we learned from Apollo Science, followed by Christina Shupla who conducted “Ice and Seek” activities. NASA JSC speakers included: Ben Peters who shared information about Space Suit Design, David “Duck” Mittlefehldt who shared information about the Mars MER mission, and Neal Pellis who spoke about Space Cell Biology. Aerospace Education Specialist Mike McGlone shared NASA STEM educational activities while Paige Graff conducted activities from the Expedition Earth and Beyond and Mars Student Imaging projects.
NASA Johnson Space Center hosted the educators for a tour of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, Historical Apollo Mission Control, Shuttle Flight Control, Habitability and Environmental Factors Division, and the Space Vehicle Mock up Facility.
Teachers had the opportunity to visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science to conduct a simulated mission to the Moon and Mars in the Challenger Center, watch the Hubble 3-D movie and visit exhibits. Teachers also visited Space Center Houston and NASA Educator Resource Center to complete the week. Forty-six teachers participated in this weeklong event. The LiftOff workshops prove that the excitement that teachers and students feel about space science and exploration can be tapped to enrich science, technology, engineering, and math classes. The workshops also provide teachers the rare – and for some, unique – opportunity to spend a week working with professional scientists and engineers.
This nationally competitive, educational training for teachers is sponsored by the Texas Space Grant Consortium. Additional information about the LiftOff summer institute is available from the internet at the following URL: http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/liftoff/ . Mrs. Perez said, “I highly recommend this teacher training opportunity. It was the best week of training I have ever participated in.”