IPN International Space Education Professional Development Program, Houston (day 4)


Day 4 – Thursday 05 February 2015

While the programme for the first three days was entirely put together by IPN, for today and tomorrow we have joined the Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC), organized annually by the Space Center Houston and NASA.

The programme of this conference is packed with talks from the Johnson Space Center, presentations from teachers sharing how they use space resources in their classes and appearances of astronauts. Check out their full programme for this year:

Each day, the group brought by IPN has signed up to different sessions. I will of course be writing about those I attended, but I invite the colleagues in the group (you can see us all in the main picture from yesterday) to share the other sessions in the comments (please?).

First thing I saw today was the keynote presentation from astronaut Clay Anderson. In his Journey to space talk he told us about his adventures on board the ISS and how he applied 15 times to NASA’s astronaut programme before he was accepted. He also mentioned the importance of STEAM, STEM with Art (as a side note, I recommend the article from a French teacher on the topic of STEAM we published in the Scientix blog not long ago and if you want to know more and are in Europe at the time, we will be organizing a workshop for project representatives on the topic of STEAM in April).

You can find more stories from Clay Anderson on his website, and he seems to be quite active on twitter and facebook as well.

I went to see then the presentation on STEMspace.eu, also known as BEST21, which is a World Education initiative in partnership with the International Partnership Network (which has helped bring Scientix to Houston). STEMspace.eu is designed to develop and strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teaching at the secondary level in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland. BEST21 (Bringing European STEM Teaching in the 21st Century) was officially announced on October 10th, 2013 and is funded by the Verizon Foundation. Alex Blackwood, CEO of IPN, explained “The idea behind the website is to pull together space related education resources, identified and used by fellow teachers which can be easily accessed by others. The resources are grouped by ‘topic’ for example ‘orbital mechanics’ or Newtons Laws’ so there is no direct link to any one curriculum.” Check out their twitter accounts @STEMspaceEU and @IebPN. The accounts are relatively new, but you do not want to miss their news in the future! Finally, Val Caldwell, Marketing and Development Manager of IPN, shared with the audience the very true quote “When kids look up to great scientists the way they do to great musicians and actors, civilization will jump to the next level” (Brian Greene).

During their session, Alex and Val, very kindly, gave me 15′ to present Scientix to the attending STEM teachers (for those teachers that could not be there, here are the slides). Two interesting things:

  1. Among the participants there was a music teacher, Jami Lupold, who has been using Space in her classes for years. Ms. Lupold is actually running a project on Building Cultural Bridges. Very impressive the work they are doing and their connections.
  2. The STEM teachers present… did not know who Asterix is. Maybe my next talk should be on the famous Gaul that inspired Scientix!

My last session of the day was Take Flight with NASA airborne science. During this session, Michael Wilkinson, Fieldston Lower School, and Emily Schaller, National Suborbital Education and Research Center, told us how STEM teachers can use active NASA research in their classes and interact with actual missions in real time. They introduced the NASA Airborne Research Science Program and the Mission Tools interface that allows classrooms to connect to real time data streams and online live chats with mission scientists, engineers, pilots and other classrooms around the world. In order to join, it is necessary to get an account (see where it says “Mission Tools Suite for Education” towards the bottom of the Missions Tools Suite website).

A lot of information in 4 days… Last two things for today:

  • You can find many apps on space at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website. Val recommends Spacecraft 3D in particular. I will check them out when I am back in Brussels.
  • Do you know what’s shown on the the picture at the very top of the page? I’m going to try to drive one of them tomorrow… 🙂


Article written by: Agueda Graz Velazquez, Scientix Project Manager and Science Team Manager, European Schoolnet

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