PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School

PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS 4

The Collaborative Learning Leader, Dr. Yvonne Gomez, and the principal of the PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School, Sylvia Lizcano reached out to the JSC EPDC specialist to discuss potential future partnerships with NASA. The school serves Pharr, TX. Pharr has a 94.3% Hispanic population and 29.1% of the population of the area live below the poverty line with the largest demographics with that determination being children younger than 12.

From February 15th through 17th, the EPDC specialist had the opportunity to interact with students, teachers, administrators, and the superintendent’s office. Teachers spent hour long sessions learning about the many resources available from NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. Educators from various disciplines, including non-STEM subjects, came together to discuss how to they could come together to bring both context and content to the curriculum they share with their students.

Administrators and the specialist held meetings to discuss the ways the specialist could best be of service going forward. Also, a parent engagement meeting was held to allow parents to ask questions, learn more about the school, and interact with the specialist.

Students got to engage with the specialist to talk about careers as NASA, opportunities to engage in challenges, and ask questions to add deeper background to many of their ongoing projects. A video made by the district can be seen at:

This visit was the opening to ongoing collaboration to help the school better reach their students as they prepare them for the possibility of a “space-based” economy in the future. The district is near Brownsville, TX, which is home to a major SpaceX facility with the potential for many more players in the industry to come.

The school is undertaking a large-scale series of projects governed by the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This aligns them nicely with the products and opportunities of the OSTEM NGS Theme, Earth. Among other possibilities, having all the teachers become GLOBE certified is one example of a point of collaboration being considered.

This is just one of the connections being made with educational facilities and organizations anxious to collaborate and be a part of the ongoing work of NASA. The Greenbush Education Service Center serves largely rural counties in Southeast Kansas operating out of a main facility and campuses throughout Kansas. Prior to the pandemic, the JSC EPDC specialist participated in an event sponsored by the University of Kansas and the Governor’s Office for educators from all over the state.

Zach Sachs is a Gifted Education teacher at the center. He and the Center administrators are very interested in becoming a hub for ongoing NASA opportunities in the area. With their disparate staff going into schools all over the state, the EPDC specialist discussed the Solar System Ambassador Program and making the Center a “train the trainer” site for programs like that, and NASA’s many other challenges and opportunities for students and educators.

Both these organizations, and several others are as excited as NASA is about the future that lies just over the horizon. They want to be called on when new opportunities arise. They very much want to be a part of the ongoing story of human exploration being told by NASA and her partners.

Steven C. Smith
(Pronouns: he, him, his)

NASA STEM EPDC Education Specialist
Ideation, Individualization, Input, Strategic, Communication

M: 478-951-5008

NASA Office of STEM Engagement
Johnson Space Center