Engineering Video Contest–$25,000 prize!!

•January 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment

How do we communicate how valuable engineering is in our lives??

Throughout history, engineering has advanced civilization from the way we connect with each other, to the way we heal, to how we get around, and simply have fun. But society still faces major obstacles. The National Academy of Engineering has outlined 14 game-changing opportunities for the 21st century called the Grand Challenges for Engineering. We want you to review the 14 Grand Challenges, and then create and submit a 1 to 2 minute video that shows how achieving one or more of the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering will lead to a more sustainable, healthy, secure, and/or joyous world!
The Grand Prize of $25,000 will go to the most inspiring 1-2 minute video. We hope that you will participate in the contest and also encourage those in your communities to enter as well!

The E4U2 Video Contest is open for video submissions from January 5, 2015 to March 2, 2015.
Visit to learn more!
For any additional questions, please email


Become a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison

•October 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Are you space-y?  Do you want to make it official?

fruit flies

The Space Foundation, in Colorado Springs, CO, selects an annual cohort of Teacher Liaisons who join other cohorts going back to 2002 (I am a member of the first cohort) who all promote space education and contribute to all-things-space.  Applications are now being accepted for the next cohort–the deadline is December 5, 2014…and if you’re anything like me, life just gets busier, so applying sooner rather than later is a good idea.  Here’s more info:

Teacher Liaison Application Process

Create and validate an account
Fill out the application questionnaire
Submit a lesson to share with other teachers around the world
Scan and upload a signed letter of recommendation from your supervisor, principal or superintendent
Submit application by deadline – completed applications are due Friday, December 5, 2014, and will be reviewed by the Teacher Liaison Selection Committee in January 2015

What is a Teacher Liaison?

Teacher Liaisons are extraordinary educators who use space-related education programs and principles in the classroom to act as advocates for space-based education in their schools and districts. If selected for the program, they receive Space Foundation training and resources to further integrate space into their classrooms. The program is open to public, private and homeschool teachers and school administrators, including principals, specialists, curriculum and instruction developers and administrators, and others who deliver education programs to students.

Started in 2002, this prestigious, internationally recognized program provides an honored few benefits and privileges that improve teaching skills, strengthens resumes and influences space and science education at an international level. Nearly 300 educators from throughout the world are active Teacher Liaisons.

We select a new flight of Teacher Liaisons each January. Once selected, Teacher Liaisons may remain active in the program as long as they continue to meet requirements for using and advocating for space-based education in their classrooms or schools.

Space Foundation Teacher Liaisons serve as active links between the Space Foundation and their schools and school districts and often work with other space organizations, such as NASA.

intrepid february 2012

Who is Eligible?

Teacher Liaisons may be any PreK-20 educator or other professional or informal educator in the PreK-20 arena. Teacher Liaisons tend to be Master Teachers who want to inspire the next generation of students to pursue and excel in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), but membership is open to educators in all disciplines, ranging from science and math to language arts, physical education, special education or the arts. Applicants need only to demonstrate that they effectively integrate space education within their curriculum.



Complimentary registration for the Space Symposium
Special recognition during the Space Symposium
Complimentary Exhibit Center admission at the Space Symposium
Specialized training and instruction at Space Foundation workshops with optional graduate-level credit
Cutting-edge space education materials, including standards-based lesson plans, training and NASA activities
Opportunities to meet and communicate with top educators, space leaders, astronauts and scientists from across the country
Exclusive Teacher Liaison online community for sharing ideas
International recognition as an advocate in promoting and improving space and science education
A special “logo shirt” worn ONLY by Space Foundation Teacher Liaisons
“First” opportunities to attend Space Foundation Discovery Center, Science On a Sphere® and other special presentations, and an opportunity to bring your class to an Audience With an Astronaut, tours of space exhibits and to participate in program pilots or course evaluations
The “Core 4” Teacher Liaison Requirements

#1 – Community Outreach
Public presentations regarding space and/or technology to members of the community. Examples include: community star gazing night, rocket launching day, back-to-school night presentation, leading space science club, Boy/Girl Scouts presentation or activity, Kiwanis Club presentation, library program, church or youth group presentation, community events during World Space Week, etc.

#2 – Teacher Education
Programs delivered to colleagues at your building or district. Examples include: Professional Learning Community (PLC) presentation regarding space in all subject areas, Teacher Liaison program presentation at staff meeting, curriculum development/alignment meeting on space and technology inclusion, presenting to staff regarding the many Space Foundation programs and opportunities, etc.

#3 – Space Foundation Connection
Don’t forget about us! Involve the Space Foundation in your teaching endeavors. We are here to assist you in so many ways. Take us up on our offers. Examples include: World Space Week contest with the Space Foundation; Space Across the Curriculum Course(s); posting at least five different ideas on our new, interactive, online Teacher Liaison community; submitting an awesome lesson plan to the Space Foundation online lesson bank; bringing your students on a field trip to the Northrop Grumman Science Center, Mars Robotics Laboratory or AGI Space Missions Simulation Laboratory; have the Space Foundation bring the New Horizons programs to you; join a Teacher Liaison connections forum either in person or via the web, etc.

#4 – Student Engagement
Include space-related lessons and activities in your classroom curriculum. Examples include: grade-level specific space or technology curriculum, multiple-grade level rocket building, Space Day, mentoring program involving space and/or technology, robotics club or contest, humans and space unit, etc.

The “Core 4” requirements must be met each year in order to stay in the program.
Teacher Liaisons are welcome to inform us of any/all met requirements throughout the year, but MUST have at least two requirements from two different categories submitted by May and two requirements from two different categories submitted by November of each school calendar year. The requirement submission process officially begins in May of each year.
Analysis of whether or not the Teacher Liaison will remain in the program will be officially determined in January of each year.
Letters will be sent out at the end of January.
Examples of programs/activities that might fit into each category have been provided. There are so many other opportunities out there!
If an activity is not on the list, please contact us! We will let you know whether the activity counts toward requirements and in which category it might fit.
Teacher Liaisons who complete the needed requirements each year will continue to remain in the program and receive priority during Space Foundation events such as Audience With an Astronaut and/or Student Tours during the Space Symposium, Space Foundation Workshops and any other teacher/students event opportunities.
Those teachers who do not complete the yearly requirements may be removed from the program and will no longer be granted admission into any Space Foundation programs/events to include the Space Symposium.


Check it out–it’s been worth it for me…


Have you seen our weather balloon?

•June 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

If you’re reading this from anywhere in Colorado, students at one of the UCCS summer camps lost their weather balloon.  See the flyer below for details.  Thanks!

weather balloon flyer

Watch NASA’s Sample Return Robot Challenge LIVE on Wednesday!

•June 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment


To help prepare for exploration of other planets and moons, NASA and Worchester Polytechnical Institute are hosting the finals for a nationwide robotics challenge. Starting at 11am (EST), you can watch Level 1 of the NASA/WPI Sample Return Robot Challenge at the link above.

University teams have been working on robots that need to be able to locate and collect specific samples and return them to the starting zone without the help of humans.  The robots will have to move over open rolling terrain, granular medium, soft soils, a variety of rocks, and immovable obstacles (trees, large rocks, water hazards, etc.).

The samples will be easily distinguished from other materials. Samples will have different point values and the prizes will be determined based on the scores for number and point value of samples collected and returned to the starting location.

In order to win a Level-1 prize, a robot must autonomously navigate at all times and must retrieve a pre-cached sample within the 15-minute time limit.

In order to win a Level-2 prize, a robot must autonomously navigate at all times and must retrieve the pre-cached sample and other samples distributed over the roving area within the two-hour time limit.

Returning teams this year include Survey of Los Angeles; Wunderkammer Laboratory of Topanga, California; Intrepid Systems of Lynnwood, Washington; the University of Waterloo of Ontario, Canada; AERO of Worcester, Massachusetts; Fetch of Alexandria, Virginia; Kuukulgur of Estonia; Middleman of Dunedin, Florida; and the University of California Santa Cruz Autonomous Rover Team.

New teams entering the competition are Cephal of Pittsburgh; Formicarum of Worcester, Massachusetts; the West Virginia University Mountaineers of Morgantown; the Oregon State University Mars Rover Team of Corvallis; the Retrievers of Schenectady, New York; RPI Rock Raiders of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York; Stellar Automation Systems of Marietta, Georgia; Sourcerors of Pittsburgh; and Lunambotics of Mexico City.

NASA’s Centennial Challenges program does not award funds to competitors unless the challenge objectives have been met.

Prize Purse
$1.5 million is available from the Centennial Challenges Program.

From left, college mentor Ryan MacKenzie, volunteer Navy veteran Robert Svec, and students John DerBoghossian and Ethan Kranick watch the sample return robot move on the grass at Schenectady High School Friday, June 6, 2014 in Schenectady, N.Y. The Schenectady High School science team named the Retrievers is competing in the NASA Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge. The robot moves using software on the computer held by Svec. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) Photo: Lori Van Buren / 00027231A

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

•June 9, 2014 • 1 Comment

NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from the International Space Station to Earth Thursday using a new laser communications instrument.
Transmission of “Hello, World!” as a video message was the first 175-megabit communication for the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), a technology demonstration that allows NASA to test methods for communication with future spacecraft using higher bandwidth than radio waves.
“The International Space Station is a test bed for a host of technologies that are helping us increase our knowledge of how we operate in space and enable us to explore even farther into the solar system,” said Sam Scimemi, International Space Station division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Using the space station to investigate ways we can improve communication rates with spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit is another example of how the orbital complex serves as a stepping stone to human deep space exploration.”
Optical communication tools like OPALS use focused laser energy to reach data rates between 10 and 1,000 times higher than current space communications, which rely on radio portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Because the space station orbits Earth at 17,500 mph, transmitting data from the space station to Earth requires extremely precise targeting. The process can be equated to a person aiming a laser pointer at the end of a human hair 30 feet away and keeping it there while walking.
To achieve this extreme precision during Thursday’s demonstration, OPALS locked onto a laser beacon emitted by the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory ground station at the Table Mountain Observatory in Wrightwood, California, and began to modulate the beam from its 2.5-watt, 1,550-nanometer laser to transmit the video. The entire transmission lasted 148 seconds and reached a maximum data transmission rate of 50 megabits per second. It took OPALS 3.5 seconds to transmit each copy of the “Hello World!” video message, which would have taken more than 10 minutes using traditional downlink methods.
“It’s incredible to see this magnificent beam of light arriving from our tiny payload on the space station,” said Matt Abrahamson, OPALS mission manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “We look forward to experimenting with OPALS over the coming months in hopes that our findings will lead to optical communications capabilities for future deep space exploration missions.”


For Summer Solstice this year, focus on the ocean…

•June 9, 2014 • 2 Comments
A collection of marine microbes.
On June 21, 2014, the summer solstice, thousands of scientists will join together to participate in Ocean Sampling Day (OSD), an international collaboration to collect water samples from the ocean and rivers around the world. Within the water samples, scientists will also be collecting things so small that, in most cases, they are invisible to the naked eye. Some, in fact, are so tiny that up to a million of them can live in just one millimeter of seawater!
The nearly invisible items of scientific interest are living organisms that make up 98 percent of the biomass in Earth’s ocean and they are responsible for most of the biological activity that takes place within it. They are marine microbes – Bacteria, Archaea, Eukaryota, and viruses – and they are found everywhere, from the ocean surface to deep within rocks beneath the ocean floor.
Learn more about Ocean Sampling Day at Explore the Student Video, the Microbes Photo Gallery, Fact Sheet, Classroom Activities, and much more!

Sailing for Success: Lessons aboard a Tall Ship!

•May 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on my blog, and I’m making an effort to post new material.  Some will still be updates on great science out there in the world, while other posts will forward on teacher professional development courses, as well as student and teacher opportunities of all kinds.

This latest opportunity is for teachers who might be interested in an ocean adventure.  See below for details:

Calling all hands!  Teachers wanted for an amazing professional development opportunity aboard the tall ship Mystic!
The ocean is a fantastic classroom, and a Tall Ship serves as an amazing platform for growth, teamwork, leadership and adventureEducators will become part of the crew, with the option of earning credits from the University of Rhode Island.  OHPRI invites all interested teachers to apply for one of the 30 bunks aboard the schooner Mystic and join our professional crew on this five day voyage. 
When: Week 1: July 7th-11th Process Communication Model (PEM)® course, and inquiry based curriculum development
             Week 2: July 14th-18th integrating technology and videography in the classroom, and inquiry based curriculum development
Where: Beginning and ending in Newport, RI with itinerary including Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, Provincetown, Cape Cod Canal and Stellwagen Bank.
Who: Educators in grades 6 and up, of any discipline
Cost: $500 for one week session (includes seminar materials, meals, and lodging)
Credit (optional): 6 CEU credits, representing 60 hours of work, from the University of Rhode Island for ($25.00 additional)
Please fill out this survey to apply!  Or copy and paste:
Application deadline: June 5th  

Photo credits from left to right: Joanna Greene, Kathleen Vespia, Lindsey Geier
Join the crew in all aspects of shipboard life; raising and furling the sails, standing watch, steering, navigation and chart work.  While no extraordinary fitness is required, applicants should be comfortable climbing a six foot ladder unassisted, and be of good general health.  Become a student again, and be immersed in a whole new language, and customs in the world of Tall Ship sailing.  See attached Outline of Seamanship Course.
Week one component, July 7th-11th: In addition to the personal development that comes from working as part of the crew, participants will complete training in the Process Communication Model(PEM)® through the Quality Educator Relations Seminar. This training is designed to help teachers achieve more effective communication.  Educators will learn how to target communication to meet their students’ motivational needs as well as those of their colleagues, administrators, and parents. Participants will be given the tools to develop an individualized teaching style that will enable them to connect quickly with and motivate their students.  Prior to boarding, all participants will be asked to complete an on-line inventory which provides a profile identifying key aspects of their personality and the impact of these on their teaching practice.
Week two component, July 14th-18th ** just added! **:  Participants will have the opportunity to learn basic video skills, and document their experience aboard.  Learn how incorporating video and other digital media in the classroom can help create meaningful, memorable lessons for your students.  Roy Bergstrom, lead information technologist and adjunct assistant professor, film/media program at the University of Rhode Island will guide discussion and teach techniques for affordable, straightforward ways to incorporate film making and other technology into your classroom.   Additionally, Kristy Otterbach, a licensed captain and sailor, and teacher at the Sound School Regional Aquaculture Center in New Haven, CT will be offering personalized workshops in interdisciplinary hands-on curriculum development, mastery learning /grading and utilizing expressive and creative arts activities for exploring areas of personal growth, leadership and consciousness raising.  Resources and ideas for program development and creative funding for those interested in perusing on board student programs will be available.
During both weeks, participants will work in pairs to develop engaging, student-centered, inquiry-based lesson plans incorporating learning from the ocean and the ship.  Lesson plans can cover all disciplines, including STEAM, language arts, health, and social studies. 
OHPRI will offer educational trips for students year-round on board Oliver Hazard Perry next year.  The curriculum developed during this week-long adventure will be used on board for future programs.
Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI) is a non-profit organization which facilitates education at sea.  Currently we are in the final phases of constructing our own 200-foot Tall Ship, SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, scheduled to be ready to set sail this fall.  She is currently hauled out at the Newport Shipyard until the end of May – come take a look!  In anticipation of our voyages on SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, OHPRI has chartered the schooner Mystic, a 180-foot three masted steel hulled top sail schooner which will host our programs this summer.
We will notify all accepted applicants by June 10th.  Please contact either Elise Huebner or Jess Wurzbacher with any questions at or, or call (401) 841-0080.