Quotes about the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program and its recent
selection of 26 teachers for the 2012/2013 Cycle 1 flight program:
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia)
Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation, released the following statement:
"Science, technology, engineering and math have to be at the forefront
of our educational efforts in the 21st Century—and a little adventure
never hurts. This is just another example of how West Virginians are
leading the way. I'm so excited for Sarah Scoles of NRAO and Anne
Smith from Green Bank Middle School, and can't wait to hear about
U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas)
Senator Hutchison, ranking member of Senate Commerce, Science and
Transportation Committee, recently congratulated Adriana Alvarez and
Mariela Aguirre, two teachers from the Alicia R. Chacon International
School in El Paso, Texas, who were selected by NASA to participate in
research flights for scientific observations.
"We need to encourage our children to become interested in science and
space and one way we do that is by providing new and exciting
opportunities for their teachers. This is exactly what NASA is doing
with these research flights and I am thrilled the agency has selected
two teachers from Texas to bring that excitement to our state's
About the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program
May 26, 2011 Flight: Mary Blessing, Herndon, VA, and Cris DeWolf, Remus, MI, with Dana Backman
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission is responsible to NASA for conducting an Education and Public Outreach program that exploits the unique attributes of airborne astronomy to contribute to national goals for the reform of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and to the elevation of public scientific and technical literacy.
SOFIA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) effort is a professional development program aspiring to improve teaching, inspire students, and inform the community. It builds upon the legacy of NASA’s highly successful FOSTER (Flight Opportunities for Science Teacher EnRicment) program that flew educators aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) from 1990 – 1995.
The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors “Pilot” program for educator professional development successfully flew six teachers on the observatory during the summer of 2011, representing California, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Virginia (Washington DC). Evaluation confirmed the program’s positive impact on the teacher participants, on their students, and in their communities. Teachers not only incorporated content knowledge and specific components of their experience into their curricula, they also have also given dozens of presentations and implemented teacher professional development workshops. Their efforts to date have impacted hundreds of students and teachers.
SOFIA’s AAA program now enters its Cycle 1 phase: 13 AAA educator teams, plus alternates, were selected in a highly competitive application process. Selected educators come from a variety of backgrounds, and their institutions include a school for the deaf, an alternative education site (developmentally challenged), highly underserved student populations, rural schools, and a Native American school site.
As part of preparation and training for their flight experience, AAA program participants will complete a graduate-level Astronomy for Teachers on-line course administered by Montana State University and National Teacher Enhancement Network. Teams will be paired with an astronomer with observatory time, and they will work with this astronomer throughout the research, from preparation to data analysis. AAAs will optimally fly aboard the observatory twice, will implement classroom lessons based on their experiences, and will complete an outreach plan.
Selection into this prestigious program is truly an honor for the educators and their school, planetarium or observatory.
Teachers in the News archive
May 2011: NASA Selects Classroom Teachers For SOFIA Science Flights