Educator Professional Development Houston, Texas
ipnScotland has been running learning journeys/professional development trips to Houston, Texas for around 10 years. During this time the client group has expanded from educators/teachers to include high school students and university/college students. We have run tailored programmes for more than 40 educators and project managers from around the globe; 30 high school students from Scotland, and more recently 10 university students from Norway and Scotland.
The groups range in size from four to around 24, accompanied by project manager or supervising teachers as appropriate. The most recent trip was in February 2019 when we had a group of Californian teachers join us in Houston for 6 days of unique access to the US space industry.
The teachers we hosted in Feb 2019 were from East San Gabriel Valley ROP (ESGVROP). This group comprised careers advisors, as well as teachers with a STEM focus (Chemistry through Forensics). ESGVROP have sent teachers on this program annually for the last 5 years.
This year the participants arrived on Super Bowl Sunday, so what better way to start things off than a Super Bowl party hosted by two NASA Engineers!
The program proper started on Monday morning with a private tour of Rocket Park by George W.S. Abbey, former Director of Johnson Space Centre and currently (despite being in his 80’s) Senior Fellow in Space Policy at Rice University in Houston. George provides a personal description of the Apollo era which is truly amazing and always a highlight of the trip.
The first speaker session on Monday afternoon included input from a female Engineer and Astronaut, Bonnie Dunbar, who flew in space five times. A female planetary scientist from the Orbital Debris Office at NASA, Dr Sue Lederer, who was part of the international team who discovered the Trappist 1 planets and finally Jon Olansen, an engineer who is a manager in the Gateway Program, which is working on the development of a lunar orbiter platform.
After a pretty amazing and inspirational day came the second social event of the trip. Social events are a unique element of the whole experience and provide participants with informal access to scientists, engineers and astronauts often at events hosted in their homes. Monday night found the group at the home of former NASA Director of Life Sciences, Neal Pellis and his wife Jeannie. They regularly host our groups and friends from NASA for an evening of food, chat and music.
Tuesday offered sessions from another four, diverse, but none the less, inspirational speakers. The first of these was one of the current class of Astronaut candidates, Jasmine Mogbehli. Jasmine is in her second and final year of training to become an Astronaut, from August 2019 she will be available to be assigned to a mission. She was followed by Dom Del Rosso who is currently the Chief Engineer for the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (the giant pool where astronauts train to do Extra Vehicular Activity or Space Walks). In the afternoon Neal Pellis ran the group through some of the amazing research done in the life sciences area on the ISS. Finally, the group had a chat with Flight Surgeon, Rick Scheuring who joined us straight from a shift on Mission Control. Flight Surgeons work with crew members on all aspect of their health before, during and after space flight.
Day 3 and two more Astronauts on the agenda! Firstly, Sunita Williams, who is assigned to the second flight of the Boeing Starliner scheduled for early 2020, this will be her third space flight and she will spend 6 months on the International Space Station. The second Astronaut of the day was Bill McArthur, a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions and one Soyuz mission! As if that wasn’t enough he got to chat with J.K. Rowling while on station as well as downlink to Paul McArtney during a concert!!
Stephanie Walker, host of the Super Bowl Party was next to talk about some of the life support systems that are needed on the ISS and for future long duration missions...Stephanie is affectionately know as The Potty Queen! Finally the group met, the most senior (and one of the loveliest) person they encountered during the trip, Joel Montalbano, Director of Human Space Flight! We met up with Joel at a local burger bar for an early dinner and chat about the future of human space flight followed by a Virtual Reality tour of the cosmos and the ISS...featuring none other than Sunita Williams!!
Thursday saw the start of The Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) at Space Centre Houston. Participants spent two days at a teacher conference which offered them materials and ides of how to use space to teach a variety of subjects and in doing so enthuse their students about STEM. They also had the opportunity to network with other educators from across the globe.
Friday should have been another day at SEEC for our educators, but thanks to Astronaut Candidate Jasmin Mogbehli this years participants got a truly unique opportunity! Jasmin arranged for them to get access to the NBL where a fellow Astronaut Candidate was preparing for EVA training in the pool....VIP treatment!!!
Friday night was the SEEC Banquet where we were joined by a Rocket Scientist who has flown in from Denver to spend time with us. Amber Gell is a Rocket Scientist for Lockheed Martin who has worked on the
Orion Program and has more qualifications that anyone else I know! She is passionate about outreach activity and often spends vacation time inspiring the engineers of tomorrow.
No trip would be complete without a visit to Chelsea’s Wine bar, so after the Banquet that’s where we headed! Chelsea’s is close to JSC and is a popular hang out for NASA employees past and present, not least George Abbey! You just never know who you will bump in to at Chelsea!! Friday is a busy night but even more so after the SEEC Banquet. This year was no exception! We got to relax and hang out with even more scientists, engineers and STEM educators from NASA. Many of the speakers we met during the week popped by to say goodbye and a few others who’s schedules didn’t allow them to present popped by to say hi and goodbye!
It was a pretty packed week with some carefully planned activities and some surprise serendipitous opportunities. Hopefully this years group of educators return to California full of ideas and enthusiasm to share with their colleagues and students.
If you would like to be part of this the details are below!!
Space - Education’s Final Frontier ?
The International Space Exploration Educators Program, Houston, Texas, 2 - 8 February 2020
This program offers Educators, Teachers, Managers and Partnership professionals a unique opportunity to enhance their approach to teaching science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The program is designed and delivered in partnership with the International Space Community and demonstrates the benefits of using space exploration in an educational context for all grades and levels. To read about the pilot program and see what our pilot ‘Educators in Space’ thought about their experience click here!!
▪ To demonstrate how space exploration can be used to inspire and motivate young people across the world.
▪ To develop the skills and knowledge of key professionals to enable them to use space exploration to enhance their approach to teaching STEM and related areas
▪ To inspire key professionals to promote the benefits of space exploration to education in their countries.
▪ To bring together key educators and managers from across the world to learn in partnership with each other and the International Space Community
The trip lasts 6 nights, 7 days and includes 5 full days of of unique and inspirational activity including;
▪ registration for the Space Explorers Education Conference run by Space Centre Houston,which showcases space related educational resources and so much more
▪ workshops with NASA personnel involved in developing and delivering educational material
▪ informal sessions with astronauts, engineers and scientists
▪ evening social events and informal networking with astronauts, scientists and engineers from NASA
▪ cultural visits if the schedule allows!
5 day professional development program
Registration at SEEC
Accommodation for 6 nights
Transport to and from airport
Transportation in Houston
Return flights to Houston
$2600 (IPN Members)
$2750 (Non members)
For more information or to discuss further contact firstname.lastname@example.org