NASA Holds Workshop for New Orleans Teachers
HAMPTON, Va. -- Twenty three New Orleans middle school teachers will get the opportunity next week to strengthen their math and science teaching skills at a NASA-sponsored education workshop.
NASA is sponsoring the workshop as part of its outreach effort to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in the nation's schools. The workshop, "Clouds, Dust and Sunshine: Enhancing Our Understanding of Weather and Climate," will be held June 7 - 9 at the Lusher Charter School in New Orleans. The workshop is being sponsored by NASA's Earth Science program.
Teachers from the Recovery School District and the parishes of St. Charles, St. Tammany, Jefferson and Orleans will take part.
The three-day workshop will focus on the basics of climate science, but will also put a strong emphasis on the fundamentals of conducting a science experiment. Teachers will learn how to have their students learn the importance of every step of an experiment – using a photometer to measure the strength of the sunlight reaching the Earth's surface. This experiment fits with several of NASA's Earth Science goals: to better understand how particles in the air and clouds absorb and scatter sunlight, which is a key driver of Earth's climate.
"The climate is something we all care about and hear a lot about," said Chip Trepte, a research scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., who is the project scientist for one of NASA's Earth-observing satellite missions. Trepte will be leading several sessions at the workshop. "Climate is driven by the balance between sunlight coming into the atmosphere and infrared energy going out. We want to teach people how dust and clouds can affect that."
In addition to Trepte, the workshop includes instructors from NASA's MY NASA DATA program, the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program and educators from Hampton University, University of Texas at Tyler and the Institute for Earth Science Research and Education.
Dianne Q. Robinson, chair of Hampton University's Interdisciplinary Science Center and a CALIPSO outreach partner, said the workshop will both help teachers address content standards and bring the latest science technology to their students.
"We will teach them about some specific science concepts that relate to the standards they need to meet, and at the same time bring cutting-edge science into the classroom," Robinson said. "NASA is very much interested in inspiring the next generation. One of the things that we know interests students in science is doing real science and using real instruments instead of just using a textbook."
Jean May-Brett, Math and Science Partnership program coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Education, said she is thrilled for the local teachers taking part.
"We're very excited to work with NASA and for our teachers to have this opportunity," May-Brett said.
The workshop is being held in New Orleans in conjunction with an October science meeting to discuss the findings from a constellation of five international Earth-observing satellites that fly in close formation called the A-Train. Teachers who take part in the workshop and some of their students will have the opportunity to attend the A-Train Symposium (Oct. 24-28) to see how scientists from NASA and other organizations present and discuss their work.
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