AFA’s Savannah Chapter President, Laurie Orth, was selected with 41 other STEM educators—out of 500 applicants—to attend the Lift Off Institute at NASA Johnson Space Center in June. Sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Space Research, Space Grant Consortiums and NASA, the program provides aerospace education and professional development for STEM Educators. Lift Off educators enjoyed rigorous hands-on workshops along with fascinating presentations by NASA scientists and space industry experts.
Field trips included NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, a Mars simulation mission at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and a visit to the Limitless Space Institute (LSI). Former NASA scientist, Dr. Sonny White, gave a presentation about LSI’s research in advanced propulsion for breakthrough speed with space drives, wormholes, and space warps. Kaci Heins, AFA’s National Teacher of the Year in 2014, is the Director of Education at LSI and provided a workshop for the Lift Off educators about solar space sails. Behind the scenes tours at Johnson Space Center included the Viper lunar rover lab and a presentation about meteorites. NASA scientist Dr. Paul Abell gave a presentation about planetary defense from asteroids and the DART (Double Asteroid Redirect Test) Mission.
NASA Apollo XIII astronaut, Fred Haise, spoke to the Lift Off group about his life and career in aerospace as a USAF test pilot, and astronaut on the infamous “Houston we have a problem” Apollo mission in April 1970. The educators came away with a multitude of aerospace education resources and STEM ideas to bring back to their communities.