Equipping Chicago Educators to Inspire the Artemis Generation

On Aug. 23, NASA Langley Research Center Educator Professional Development (EDP) Specialist Anne Weiss, Johnson Space Center EPD Specialist Steven Smith and Texas State University Education Specialist Monica Uribe co-facilitated a session about NASA’s Moon to Mars efforts at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Together, with other NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative (EPDC) staff, they provided background information on Artemis, Orion and future missions to return to the Moon while also assisting the Moon Touchdown Engineering Design Challenge for 20 Chicago Public Schools K-12 STEM educators and two professors from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Throughout the professional development workshop, attendees were provided with classroom resources for culturally relevant teaching, Earth science fundamentals on water and soil and NASA Beginning Engineering, Science and Technology, or BEST, engineering design curriculum. This effort aligns with EPD initiatives supported by NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement and furthers the agency’s performance goals to: 1) Support STEM educators through the delivery of NASA education content and engagement in educator professional development opportunities, and 2) Provide opportunities for learners to engage in STEM education engagement activities that capitalize on NASA-unique assets and content.

Chicago Educators
Educators collaborate while participating in the “NASA Touchdown! Moon
Landing Engineering Design Challenge.” Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space
Flight Center/Dr. Barbie Buckner

“Educators also appreciate the opportunity to network with other educators and share ideas,” noted Susan Kohler from NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the lead specialist for this event. “When they are actually part of the engineering of a project, they gain the confidence to introduce the activities in the classroom.”

NASA’s STEM Teacher Professional Development for grades K-8 was coined “Using NASA Resources to Reinforce the Science and Engineering Practices.” The event included three sessions, covering soil and water protocols from the NASA Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, or GLOBE, project, and future missions to return to the Moon with Artemis; leading teachers through the specifics of the “NASA Touchdown! Moon Landing Engineering Design Challenge;” and highlighting the Satellite Engineering Design Challenge from NASA BEST curriculum.

Teachers work together to explore NASA GLOBE’s water and soil protocols.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Dr. Barbie Buckner

One CPS teacher was grateful for the team taking the time to come to Chicago, mentioning that she was previously unaware of the resources NASA offers for educators. She expressed her excitement to implement the activities in her classroom to encourage her students think critically.

The three sessions were facilitated by NASA STEM EPDC specialists from centers across the country. This workshop, a true team effort, was made possible by a collaboration between NASA STEM EPDC, Texas State University and the University of Illinois-Chicago’s College of Education.