This month, CSA facilitator Lucy Howlett travelled to Palmdale, CA as a NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassador (AAA), joining other U.S. teachers aboard the SOFIA airborne laboratory.
Ms. Howlett said the science instruments and the telescope onboard SOFIA did everything they were intended to perform and the collaboration among NASA scientists and flight crew were amazing. She said sitting in the flight deck of the Boeing 747 with the pilots was one of the most amazing experiences of her life.
NASA’s AAA program provides professional development for science teachers to improve science teaching and enhance student learning and STEM engagement. The AAA program includes teachers in middle schools, high schools, and community colleges.
AAA teachers receive training in astrophysics and planetary science, including a week-long STEM immersion experience at a NASA astronomy research facility such as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) based in Palmdale or the Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. After their training, the AAAs teach a physical science curriculum module created by the SETI Institute that connects curriculum concepts to NASA-enabled research.
Since 2011, the NASA-funded program has impacted tens of thousands of students through the experiences and training of their teachers.