Ann Marie Trotta
Teachers Get Hands-On Experience Through Innovative NASA Modeling and Simulation Internship
HAMPTON -- Select teachers will spend part of their summer learning about virtual technology in an effort to get their students excited about real-world science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) applications. The two-week internship program will run July 18-29.
An innovative summer internship program, called Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development, will give 42 U.S. middle and high school teachers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience with NASA's latest aerospace engineering technologies while working closely with agency technical mentors. The program is jointly sponsored by NASA's Office of Education and Aeronautics Research Directorate.
Simulation-based aerospace engineering relies on computer models and simulations of aerospace structures, materials, atmospheric flight conditions and system operations to design improvements for the next generation of flight vehicles and systems, such as the air transportation system.
"The greatest engineering accomplishments today are made possible because of modeling and simulation," said Behzad Raiszadeh, technical manager for the modeling and simulation initiative at NASA Langley. "These highly qualified educators will see first hand how simulation is used to solve some of the most challenging NASA problems using the basic math and physics principles they themselves teach in school."
Four NASA centers are participating in the program this year. Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.; and Langley Research Center are hosting workshops. Johnson Space Center in Houston is supporting a Hispanic community-level workshop in Kingsville, Texas. These centers employ extensive modeling and simulation tools to perform research and technology development.
During the program, teachers will work alongside NASA mentors in various agency laboratories and have the opportunity to tour NASA facilities. In addition, they will participate in NASA education's Digital Learning Network, become acquainted with other agency educational resources, attend speaking engagements, and develop lesson plans incorporating modeling and simulation concepts.
Participating teachers are from nine states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas. Half of the teachers represent schools with a minority population exceeding 50%, enabling the program to reach an underserved student population.
This year's teachers were required to obtain sponsorships from industry and academia. Forty sponsors have committed post-workshop support to the teachers. The support includes mentoring, classroom site visits, field trips, equipment loans, forums for future workshops/speaking engagements and financial donations to the teachers for resources.
After their internships, the teachers will implement the new lesson plans and share them with other teachers in their school districts. Four of the teachers from the 2010 pilot program presented modeling and simulation lesson plans at national conferences. Two of last year's teachers are leading the Texas Modeling and Simulation workshop, and one of teachers was selected to be a prestigious Siemens STEM Institute Fellow.
The ultimate goal of the program is to get students interested in aerospace engineering and computer simulation early in their education.
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