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July 6, 1998

Norm Chaffee
Johnson Space Center

Release: J98-27

Global Mix Visits JSC for Aerospace Science Teachers' Workshop

Educators from all over the world converged on the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, this summer to take part in a 2-week program designed to share educational techniques and stimulate student interest in the space program.

Participants came from as far as Zimbabwe, Burma and Ecuador for the Aerospace Science In-Service Institute. The program is open to teachers from Department of State schools, attracting individuals from a rich mix of languages, backgrounds, and nationalities.

The teachers met with astronauts and visited JSC facilities such as a chamber where volunteers can live for months at a time to test recyclable life support systems; the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, a swimming pool where astronauts train underwater for spacewalks, and a NASA aircraft. During the program, they explored educational techniques incorporating the theme of space travel and exploration.

Though the visiting teachers are employed by the Department of State and teach in the State Department’s schools, many of them are foreign nationals and teach foreign students as well as American children abroad. These students represent future scientists, politicians, artists and teachers from every corner of the globe. Though many of the students may never step foot on American soil, the ideas carried back to them by their teachers have the potential to be felt for generations.

"Most of the children that we deal with are the future leaders of their country so if we get them interested in the space program it could get them working toward unity," said Brenda Farkas, a sixth grade science and math teacher from Mexico City. When Farkas returned to Mexico City, she brought a whole new style of teaching with her. Based on what she has learned at the Johnson

Space Center, she has planned a new program, incorporating a space theme in all of the material that she covers. From now on, Farkas’ sixth grade students will not go to "class" as we know it. They will spend their time learning in "Mission Control."

As a result of this program, children from nations without a space program, such as Mexico, Ethiopia, and Malta, may be introduced for the first time to the excitement of space exploration.

In addition to the experiences teachers have while at the workshop, they are made aware of the many educational products available from NASA. The workshop is a part of JSC’s ongoing involvement in the pursuit of educational excellence, a commitment to inspire America’s youth as well as to create a variety of learning opportunities.

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