Educator News

NASA Supports Teachers of Migrant Farm-Worker Children
Victoria Steiner
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-0176

Release: 04-57AR

California teachers in schools with a higher-than-average percentage of students from migrant farm-worker families are taking part in a unique workshop this week featuring NASA's exciting educational resources.

NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, Calif., and Integrated Space Technologies (IST), Huntsville, Ala., are sponsoring the workshop from June 14 to June 22. Ten fourth- through sixth-grade teachers are attending this week-long professional development opportunity. The teachers are from school districts located in rural areas with significant numbers of students from Spanish-speaking migrant farm-worker families.

"We are very pleased to offer this opportunity for teachers to potentially impact the future of students from underrepresented, underserved communities, inspiring them to choose careers in math and science," said Brenda Collins, NASA Ames program manager for higher education. NASA Ames' Education Office is providing funding for the workshop through a grant to Integrated Space Technologies, Inc.

The workshop will provide teachers with access to NASA's wide variety of educational products and services. It also will offer teachers an opportunity to incorporate these resources into their state-mandated math/science curriculum in an effort to enrich their local classes. NASA Ames scientists will present information about current research to inspire students to pursue 'science fair' or school-wide projects.

"It's easy to forget that the children of the people who harvest our food or clean our houses have dreams, too. But they don't have the resources to 'surf the Web' after school and dream of being astronauts and scientists," said Annette Rodrigues, IST president. "We are pleased to be part of a program that will give these teachers the ideas and tools to foster such dreams." Rodrigues hopes to expand the workshop to other parts of the country "where the children of migrant workers are at risk of being forgotten in today's high-tech world."

Workshop participants will receive college or continuing education units (CEUs). Participating teachers are provided lodging, transportation costs, registration fees and a small stipend during their stay at NASA Ames.

During the workshop, mornings to mid-afternoons will be spent on-site at NASA Ames, where participants will become familiar with a variety of NASA educational resources, the Ames Exploration Encounter, the Ames Educator Resource Center (with bilingual curriculum supplements), educational technology tools, and 'NASA Quest' distance-learning opportunities. Special attention will be given to how Web-based products and services can be adapted for use in schools that lack computer resources.

Selected researchers and managers will participate in briefings and demonstrations of NASA's cutting-edge research. An educational consultant will facilitate late afternoon and evening workshops, with participation by NASA staff. During these times, teachers will 'brainstorm' applications of the resources to their own classroom situations. Teachers will be asked to provide a lesson plan at the end of the session that incorporates the information learned. This workshop will be used to develop strategies for inspiring interest in math and science among the targeted student population.

NASA increasingly has recognized the importance of providing educational outreach programs to younger students, according to Collins. "The sense of wonder and excitement inspired in students at a young age stimulates an interest and motivation to pursue the necessary education in mathematics and science that can lead to successful post-secondary education in mathematics, science, engineering and technology. It's important that NASA support those faculty members who are entrusted with the future scientists of our country," she said.

This workshop will leverage the available NASA resources by providing teachers with an opportunity to learn how to incorporate those resources into their curriculum. Through the interactive residential program, teachers also will develop and share strategies for using the resources to inspire students from this severely disadvantaged and underrepresented population.

More information about the workshop is available on the Internet at: