Press Release

NASA Hosts Virginia Teachers During Weeklong Academy

By SpaceRef Editor
August 5, 2010
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NASA Hosts Virginia Teachers During Weeklong Academy

HAMPTON, Va. – A new teachers’ institute will have 50 educators from across Virginia learning how to bring NASA content into their classrooms.

The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program will hold its inaugural Teacher Institute at NASA Langley Research Center Aug. 8-12. Select secondary science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) teachers who were accepted into the program will spend the week participating in Mars exploration-themed activities, learning how to incorporate NASA materials and multimedia resources into their lesson plans and how to infuse their teaching with the latest podcasting and video technology.

“The institute will provide teachers the software and hardware necessary for creating their own videos and podcasts,” said Amber Agee-Dehart, VASTS program manager.

In addition, the teachers will receive carefully chosen NASA-developed inquiry-based lessons and activities that can be modified to meet the needs of their curriculum.

“The VASTS education team wants to help cut down on the time that teachers spend scouring the Internet for lessons and activities,” Agee-Dehart said. “We are giving the teachers time in the institute to collaborate with other educators to analyze and evaluate what materials and resources they would use with their students. And then we give the teachers time to be students and work through those activities. Allowing teachers to practice and feel confident about an activity or lesson increases the likelihood it will be used in the classroom.”

During the institute, teachers will learn from a planetary scientist who analyzes and uses data obtained from Mars rovers and other planetary orbiters to assist with mission design. In addition, an aerospace engineer who designed entry, descent, and landing systems for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Science Laboratory will share information and his experiences regarding the complexity and intensity of these missions in terms of which educators and students can relate.

The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars program is a competitive program that allows high school juniors to apply to take an engaging online course using a space exploration theme to teach a broad range of STEM skills aligned with Virginia’s Standards of Learning. Based on their course performance, scholars may be selected to participate in an all expense paid, seven-day residential summer academy at NASA Langley. Educators participating in the institute may apply to be master educators for the online course, which begins in December 2010.

The program is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and NASA Langley.

To find out more about VASTS, visit:

To learn more about NASA, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.