Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX – February 7, 2009
Teachers from across the nation met here today to help design a new training course for astronaut teachers. The workshop, attended by more than 50 teachers, was sponsored by Teachers in Space, which aims to put hundreds of American teachers into space.
“Teachers in Space is a nonprofit program working with the companies that are now developing low-cost, reusable spacecraft,” said Teachers in Space project manager Edward Wright. “Our long-term goal is to fly 200 teachers a year, four from each and every state in the Union.”
Before those teachers fly, they will train. Teachers in Space plans to offer a three-week astronaut teacher training course for those chosen to fly. “The course will include about three days of spaceflight safety instruction and two and a half weeks of professional development for teachers,” Wright said. “Astronaut teachers will fly during the summer and return to the classroom in the fall with a priceless payload of knowledge and first-hand experience. Every astronaut teacher will reach and inspire hundreds of students every year. For the first time, space can have a real effect on American education.”
Teachers in Space is now working with teachers to design the content of the professional development program. “Over the next year or two, we will be conducting a series of workshops like this one in various locations around the United States,” Wright said. “We want teachers to tell us what activities they’d like to see in the astronaut teacher course. It is their ideas that will fuel our program.”
Teachers in Space has also begun the process of selecting its first Pathfinder astronauts, who will be the first astronaut teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom. “The Pathfinders will lead the way for the large number of astronaut teachers who follow,” Wright said, “They will go back into the classroom, but we hope that they will return each summer to help teach the new astronaut teacher course.”
Rob Radnich, a physics and computer science teacher from Meadville, PA was one of the teachers who attended the first workshop, which was held at the Space Exploration Educators Conference at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Radnich feels that Teachers in Space “can be used to boost America to the same drive we felt in the 50’s and 60’s, to become a world leader in all areas, especially technology.”
Harry LaForge, an aviation teacher from Missoula, MT agreed. “We must find many ways to excite the next generation of aviators,” LaForge said.
Teachers in Space is a joint project of the Space Frontier Foundation and the United States Rocket Academy. More information about Teachers in Space is available on the website, www.TeachersInSpace.org.
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