Education

Educators take professional development to a new level with NASA

September 15, 2017 by Cindy O'Dell

NASA teacher groupAstronauts, moon rocks, wind-tunnel testing, the Mars helicopter and lesson plans. Add those up and you get the experience Brandman University Professor David Sloan and his teacher-credential students had this summer courtesy of NASA.

The students were part of a yearlong program designed to elevate the training of teachers working in science, technology, engineering or math, areas commonly referred to as STEM.

Sloan’s students traveled to NASA this summer to meet people working on a variety of space and aeronautical projects.'

“It was exciting to make these first-hand connections with space pioneers so we can bring this knowledge and excitement back to our classrooms. Besides having the first-hand experience of being on the NASA facility, seeing the NASA testing sites, meeting the people involved in NASA’s missions, we left with many NASA lesson plans.  Those of us that completed the on-site portion of the project are now authorized to check out moon rocks from NASA for use in our classrooms.  Starting off the school year with the solar eclipse was a great way to kick off their new knowledge of space,” he reported.

Sloan said highlights ranged from the Mars helicopter, to be launched in 2020, to wind-tunnel testing of the tilt-rotor design for civilian airplanes to talking about the numerous challenges that must be addressed when doing things in the environments found on Mars, or the International Space Station, or under the ice in a lake in Antarctica.

Astronaut and professorThe team was able to soak in the history of the NASA facility, said Sloan, including through conversations with astronaut Karol “Bo” Bobko, who joined the original manned orbiting program in 1966 and also flew the Challenger, Discovery and Atlantis space shuttles.

Sloan plans to integrate what he learned at NASA into his Brandman life science courses (NSCU 302 and 304). He’ll also use what’s he learned while updating Brandman courses to meet the newly released CSET topics for the multiple subject credential, which include STEM.

Brandman joined teams from the University of Montana, BYU-Idaho, Nevada State University, Fresno State University, Notre Dame de Namur, Chaminade University of Honolulu and Salish Kootenai College.  Unlike those teams, Sloan’s group of students met virtually throughout the year, and the NASA adventure was the first time they met in person.

Students in the course were Tamika Kerr from the Ontario campus, who completed her math credential this summer; Addison Ponder from the Victorville campus, who completed her foundation level math credential this summer and Jenny-Liza Ramoran from the Palm Desert campus, who is finishing her credentials in math and chemistry.

Two other students were part of the Brandman team but had to miss the on-site portion of the program because they were already teaching: Michelle Price from the Antelope Valley campus, who is completing her mild-moderate special education credential, and Peter Alcocer from the Santa Maria, who is wrapping up his biology credential.

All members of the team are now teaching and bringing the STEM curriculum to life for their students with what they learned in the past year, said Sloan.

NASA wind tunnel

Mars helicopter

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