NASA inspires teachers

Stoked and inspired — Oro Grande High School teacher Mark Gutierrez grabs a poster after a NASA workshop. Gutierrez said his class wrote essays and won the chance to speak to several of the astronauts on the poster as they passed overhead in the International Space Station. NASA is holding free monthly workshops for teachers across the Antelope Valley to help inspire STEM education.

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center Office of Education held a workshop at the Aero Institute in Palmdale Calif., recently to help teachers from across the Antelope Valley bring the adventures of space into the class room.

An example of spicing up math is to let students figure out the square footage of living space in the International Space Station and compare it to their house.

“It’s a little different equation because on the space station, the ceiling is considered living area,” said Barbara Buckner, PhD., who led the class. Besides engineering and math, NASA also encourages studies in medicine, physiological and behavior performance.
“You may want to know what it is like to be isolated for 30 months before you sign up for a mission to Mars,” said Buckner.

Another example; To get an easy grasp on how far away the moon is from the earth simply tie twine around a ball of any size, nine and a half times. Unwind it and the length of the string will show a visualization of how far away the moon is from earth. Wind it 30 times and see how far away Mars is — a mission planed in 2030. “That is our seven and eight year olds, graduating from college,” said Buckner.

Teachers watched video clips of “Astronaut Scott Kelly’s Year in Space Mission” which ends March 2, 2016, when he will return to earth. When Kelly didn’t have a wrench that he needed to fix some equipment on the station he described what he needed, Houston designed the tool and beamed the design back to the space station where it was printed on a 3-D printer.

“That’s pretty amazing,” said Denise Costarelli, a native of the Antelope Valley who moved to Italy for 10 years and taught English at a prep school. Costarelli is now back in the Antelope Valley with her Italian husband and daughter.

“We wanted Valenina to get an American education and STEM in the U.S. is fantastic. I think a lot of us don’t know what we have right here in our backyard.” She encourages all teachers to teach what is going on in the Antelope Valley and that all children, especially girls, take extra math.

More workshops will be held throughout the year. For more information, visit www.aeroi.org.

To view the space station as it passes over head, visit www.spotthestation.nasa.gov.


More Stories From This Author