For the second consecutive summer, future teachers studying at Chaminade University gained a behind-the-scenes look at America’s space program. This during a five-day professional development institute conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The training program, funded by NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project, helped pre-service teachers enhance their STEM instructional practices. Field trips and other interactive events focused on the International Space Station, a planned mission to Mars and other major NASA initiatives.
Dr. Katrina Roseler, an associate professor with the Division of Education, applied for the program and took seven Chaminade students to Ames Research Center, a major NASA facility in California’s Silicon Valley.
“For me, the most memorable part of the trip was watching the excitement of the students as they engaged in new activities,” Dr. Roseler said. “They developed their engineering design skills and had firsthand learning opportunities with some of the leading U.S. scientists and engineers.”
She pointed out that many elementary schools emphasize mathematics and language arts – because they’re highlighted on standardized tests – at the expense of science education. Moreover, pre-service teachers are only required to complete six hours of science-related coursework in their undergraduate studies.
“As a science educator, to me, this is unacceptable,” Dr. Roseler said, emphasizing that “science knowledge and practices are essential tools for engaging with the world.” NASA addresses this issue, she said, by providing learning experiences for future teachers “that can be directly applied to their future classrooms.”
Danielle Friend ‘18, a double major in Elementary Education and English, said she and the other six Chaminade students “got to go inside a wind tunnel, see how the NASA engineers prepare to send things up to the space station, and so much more.”
“I am excited to share what I learned at NASA with just about anyone who will listen to me,” Friend said. “But mostly, I hope to take what I learned and help encourage students to love science. Teach them that if they work hard, they really can become astronauts or even rocket scientists.”
Katie Grywczynski ‘18, an Elementary Education major, said she wanted to attend the training institute “because it sounded like a really fun opportunity to learn about NASA, their resources and STEM activities I can use in my future classroom.”
“My most memorable part of the trip was getting to tour the facilities/labs and learning about everything that NASA does in our world,” Grywczynski said. “My biggest takeaway from the program was learning about all the amazing and free resources NASA has to offer.”
Elementary Education major Sara Castillo ‘19 said the training program was “jam-packed with so many sessions, tours and lessons.” This included meeting an astronaut, experiencing a mega-computer “that took up a whole upstairs building,” and exploring numerous NASA sites.
“I think my biggest takeaway – literally – is all the physical resources that we were given on the last day of the conference,” Castillo said. “Everyone was given pamphlets, lesson plans, posters for the classroom, stickers and just so many heavy resources – 20 pounds to be exact.
“Many of us were struggling to put it in our luggage without going over the airline’s weight limit,” she added.
Other Chaminade students participating in the training institute were: Angelica Louise Concepcion, Hannah Parker, Marisa Paz and Samantha Tufaga.
Chaminade’s Division of Education offers undergraduate programs in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Secondary Education. The division also offers graduate programs leading to a Master of Education degree or Master of Arts in Teaching degree.