NJ School Board Association

Coordinated and hosted the second annual all-day, hands-on integrative STEM program in collaboration between The New Jersey School Boards Association and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Friday, May 29, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Out of a developing partnership with the New Jersey School Board Association, more than eighty school districts have been represented at this leadership summit over the past two years in order to deepen understanding of necessary STEM skills and how board members can help empower teachers and students for workplace readiness. This year, board members, teachers, and superintendents (N=57) rotated through five unique Mission Design Laboratory (MDL) stations (ten total stations with about 20 total engineers, for smaller groups). Within each station, one to two Goddard engineers presented content from their branch of engineering (propulsion, thermal, attitude control, communication or power). Participants were asked to interact with the engineers for 15minutes solving real-world problems in order to gain deeper understanding of the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, collaboration, and communication skills necessary to complete a NASA mission. Participants not only gained valuable knowledge of NASA content, but also were able to come up with ways they might utilize this problem-solving, cross-disciplinary approach to learning as a valuable method of teaching within their district. The group had an exciting afternoon, which started with a tour of the Integration and Testing Facility (where various satellites have gone through the MDL process) which hosts instruments and satellites from some of NASA’s greatest missions, including current hardware and components from the James Webb Space Telescope. They also had the chance to learn about the differences between scientists and engineers with two special guest speakers, Dr. John Mather, astrophysicist and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics, and Dr. Lucy McFadden, one of Goddard’s top scientists, who currently serves as a Co-Investigator on NASA’s Dawn mission (orbits the dwarf planet Ceres). The day concluded with Educational Specialist Resources as well as notable comments from New Jersey’s sustainable STEM coordinator and former NASA Einstein Fellow, John Henry. Mr. Henry explained New Jersey’s new board member STEM certification program (which includes 3 credits for attending the workshop at NASA Goddard), as well as the way in which participants can utilize the engineering design process in order to implement action steps for district’s STEM plans to align with NASA content and resources.

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