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Clark Middle School Teacher Selected for Liftoff Summer Institute (June, 2005)

Catherine Wright, a teacher at Clark Middle School in Frisco, Texas, is one of thirty teachers selected from across the nation for the prestigious LiftOff Summer Institute to be held at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, this summer. The year 2005 marks the sixteenth consecutive year that teachers from around the country increase their knowledge of space education through the LiftOff Professional Development Summer Institute.

The LiftOff Summer Institute is a collaborative effort of Texas Space Grant Consortium members and affiliates, NASA, and industry. Middle and high school teachers apply for LiftOff and are selected competitively. The workshops are organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs. The theme for LiftOff 2005 is Spinoffs: Bringing space Down to Earth. The program combines the strengths of collaborators to enrich teaching and learning of science, mathematics, technology and engineering.

The competitive week-long institute features a series of workshops, hands-on activities, field trips, and featured presentations by NASA scientists working on various missions. Some of the most frequently asked questions about the U.S. space program are, “Why go into space when we have so many problems here on Earth?” and, “What does the space program do for me?”

These legitimate questions will be answered when educators become aware of the vast benefits of the space program that increase the quality of our daily lives. The applications on Earth technology needed for space flight have produced thousands of “spinoffs” that contribute to improving national security, the economy, productivity and lifestyle. We would be hard pressed to find an area of everyday life that has not been improved by spinoffs from the space program.

Teachers participating will tour NASA’s Johnson Space Center Mission Control, Neutral Buoyancy Lab, and the KC-135 while learning about NASA’s future for space exploration. Teachers will visit the NASA Educator Resource Center at Space Center Houston to receive additional educational materials for use in the classroom.

Thirty teachers from seven states will come together July 11-15 in Houston, Texas, to conduct experiments, tour facilities, and network with other teachers while sharing innovative lesson plans and ideas. The LiftOff workshops prove that the excitement that teachers and students feel about space science and exploration can be tapped to enrich math, science, and technology classes. The workshops also provide teachers the rare – and for some, unique – opportunity to spend a week working with professional scientists and engineers.

This nationally competitive, educational training for teachers is sponsored by NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium. Teachers interested in applying for LiftOff 2006 may obtain information from the internet at the following URL: http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/