Earlier this month dozens of educators from across the country convened in Houston, Texas, at NASA's Johnson Space Center as part of their LiftOff Summer Institute. The program, sponsored by NASA's Texas Space Grant Consortium, is a week-long educational workshop that focused on space science and exploration.
Among the educators present during the program was Galvez Middle School's eighth grade science teacher Michelle Savoy.
For Savoy, this was the first time ever attending a workshop like this. The highlight of her week, she said, was seeing the Neutral Buoyancy Lab and standing next to the 100 foot training pool used by the astronauts.
"It's nothing I could of ever imagined to do," she said. "It was first hand seeing how NASA works, space programs. I really didn't have any idea what I was going into. So many experiences I could have never imagined."
This year's LiftOff theme was Starry Night!, where numerous engineers, scientists and astronauts focused on objects in the sky such as planets, stars, the moon and sun, discussed upcoming space exploration and Mars investigations, provided life skills and tips to motivate children. Kicking off the workshops was NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill, discussing 13 things that saved Apollo XIII, followed by astronauts Fed Haise, Clay Anderson, Jerry Ross and Mike Foreman, sharing their personal experiences and stories from space.
Additionally, teachers conducted eclipse activities and modeled phases of the moon to prepare for the upcoming Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. They also saw the James Webb telescope in the chamber being prepared for testing.
Savoy said one of the main things she took from the workshops to bring back to her students is that the space program is not just for astronauts, there is a variety of jobs in various fields.
"I think that most kids, even my mind was narrow about it, when I think of NASA and space programs I think of astronauts. I realized there are hundreds of jobs that have to do with the space programs. Opening my children's minds to different opportunities of science, math and technology."
With the resources she received, she plans to share her new found knowledge with her classes, fellow teachers, host a family science night and hopes to host a district wide event, if allowed.