COURTESY PHOTO - S. C. Lee teacher Joanne Dever is dressed in an astronaut suit at the Johnson Space Center for NASA in Houston. Dever was selected for the second time to attend the Space Exploration Educators Conference.

Cove teacher explores space

Special to Leader-Press

One CCISD teacher is not only reaching for the moon to educate her students, but she is certain to land among the stars. S. C. Lee Junior High School teacher Joanne Dever attended the Space Exploration Educators Conference at the Johnson Space Center, NASA in Houston.

In addition to scientists and astronaut conference speakers, workshops ranging from kindergarten and early elementary level through high school, and include classes that integrate with art, math, ELAR, and other disciplines were offered, Dever said.

“I attended one that incorporated art in educating students about the moon, and another that provided new activities for teaching about our sun and the life cycle of stars, and the HR Diagram,” Dever said. “Another provided several activities for teaching manned space exploration, particularly in traveling outside the Earth-moon system and settling planets such as Mars.”

Conference keynote speakers included Astronaut Nicole Stott speaking on art in space education; Astronaut Leroy Chiao speaking about inspiration and perseverance in the framework of his experiences; and Matt Green, James Webb Space Telescope Senior Staff Project Scientist, providing an presentation on the design and construction of the James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for completion in 2018, This telescope is expected to see galaxies formed 13.5 billion years ago, at the point when stars and galaxies began to take form.

Dever said every tour and workshop that she attended offered wonderful handouts, activities, and advice from educators or scientists.

“The most challenging workshop I attended was one that involved working in teams to design a ‘heat shield’ from common materials. I couldn’t wait to get back and bring this challenge to my students,” Dever said. “A low cost, easy lab activity on coding on the Mars Rover and another one the challenges of completing tasks in space suits will definitely be on my list for the unit on space exploration. Best yet, all of the workshops have their presentations and handouts loaded to a central location online and accessible to everyone who went to the conference.”

Lunches provided on site at the Johnson Space Center gave educators, presenters, astronauts, and space center insiders the opportunity to visit in more casual discussion, and business cards and email contacts were frequently exchanged, building our network of resources and support to even higher levels. Participants of national summer programs were there to share their experiences and encourage educators to explore these opportunities for growth.

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