Juan Quesada, a teacher at Jill Stone Elementary School and a Distinguished Teacher candidate in the Dallas Independent School District, was among several teachers to participate in the NASA LiftOff Summer Institute at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
According to a press release, NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium sponsored the program. Teachers from across the nation were selected to participate and increase their knowledge of space education through this professional development summer institute. LiftOff is a collaborative effort of Texas Space Grant Consortium members and affiliates.
Teachers apply for LiftOff and are selected competitively. The workshops are organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs. The primary focus was on microgravity, living and working on the International Space Station and training for long-duration missions.
Opening the week-long institute was a presentation by Dr. Liz Warren, Operations Lead for the International Space Station Medical Project, including the Twins Study. Three astronauts spoke to the educators during the week: Astronaut Don Pettit shared experiments conducted on the ISS including numerous Saturday morning science activities he conducted during free time aboard the ISS, former Astronaut Clay Anderson shared experiences Living and Working on the ISS and each teacher received his book “The Ordinary Spaceman,” and Leroy Chiao told about his spaceflight experiences.
Each teacher will return to their respective districts, train other educators, and use new resources in the classroom. The LiftOff workshops prove that teachers and their students are excited about space science and exploration.