What is one way to get students engaged with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics)? Make it about space! Not only is space fascinating to students, there are growing opportunities for careers in the space industry. Here are some of the best space-related professional development for K-12 science teachers.
Space Across The Curriculum
Abrams Space Across The Curriculum is held yearly in a virtual format, and after completion, educators receive up to 30 hours of professional development certification. In this collaborative out-of-this-world experience, educators explore the connections between space innovation and life on Earth. This program features discussion and education about current space projects, space news, and how the space industry is evolving.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Professional Development Workshops
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory hosts several workshops and professional development opportunities for educators throughout the year, both in-person and virtual. The ongoing Teach Space With NASA webinar series allows educators to interact directly with NASA professionals and obtain resources to teach space science to students. Check the JPL’s education calendar for upcoming events.
Educators will also want to sign up for the NASA Express newsletter, which includes notifications of upcoming internship and professional development opportunities.
STEAM Engagement & Educator Professional Development Collaborative
Offered in partnership by NASA and Texas State University, the EEPDC Program is designed to cover a wide range of space education to help educators pursue professional development opportunities. These webinars cover a variety of space-related science topics like:
- The force of light
- Space projects like Artemis I
- Spacecraft design
Webinars are hosted by NASA-sponsored professional educators; are geared toward specific grade levels, and are free to attend.
Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers
The Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEAT) is a week-long professional development course for K-12 teachers hosted at the Smithsonian Museum’s Science Education Center. Topics covered include climate change, biodiversity and energy innovation.
The topics discussed during this program are valuable in and of themselves, but even more so because of the Smithsonian’s history of providing vast resources for knowledge. The Smithsonian Education Center was established in 1985 as a collaborative effort with the National Academy of Sciences to further STEM education for teachers and students.
The Smithsonian Science Education Center also partners with Virginia Commonwealth University to offer continuing education units to teachers who participate in this workshop.
Space Center Houston’s Education Resource Center
The Education Resource Center (ERC) of Space Center Houston is home to many in-person and virtual professional development opportunities for teachers. This program provides resources for both formal and informal educators through in-service or pre-service training regarding STEM topics.
One of ERC’s most extensive professional development programs is the Space Exploration Educators Conference, an annual opportunity for educators to learn about STEM teaching resources, trending topics in the space industry, and ready-to-implement curriculum opportunities.
The ERC supports educators in the following states:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
The McDonald Observatory Teacher Workshops
The McDonald Observatory at The University of Texas at Austin hosts various educator workshops. Educators can learn about science and mathematics through observation of the sky. This opportunity enriches educators with hands-on experience to view parts of our solar system with the assistance of resident researchers.
Any educator interested in learning about stars, dark matter, and the evolution of galaxies will leave these workshops with new knowledge to incorporate into their teaching. They provide educators with an in-depth look into the solar system, and after completion of programs, educators receive Continuing Professional Education credits.
The McDonald Observatory also offers virtual workshops for educators who cannot attend in person.
The American Meteorologist Society (AMS) Project Atmosphere
The AMS hosts an annual Project Atmosphere conference for K-12 educators pursuing professional development in the areas of climate, weather patterns and more. Educators can attend in person or online.
The atmosphere and its relationship with weather and climate strongly impact space technology. Most of what we know about Earth’s weather and climate patterns today is due to satellite technology, and this is a great subject to incorporate into space education.
Space Foundation International Teacher Liaison Program
Founded in 2004, the prestigious International Teacher Liaison Program is made up of extraordinary educators who use space-related education programs and principles to inspire the next generation of world changers.
Teacher Liaisons not only receive Space Foundation training and resources for their classrooms, they impact space and science education on an international level. Space Foundation International Teacher Liaisons serve as active links between Space Foundation and their schools and communities, often collaborating with other space organizations such as NASA.
NASA Digital Badging
Educators can enhance their careers by earning new certifications to document their professional growth. NASA offers a digital badging certification program for STEM educators called the Beginning Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST).
Educators can receive a BEST badge for completing modules about the engineering design process. Currently, NASA’s BEST digital badge certification is for educators of K-8 students.
Another valuable resource for professional development is Lunch Bytes, a short-episode series designed to be enjoyed over lunch or during planning periods. These videos teach educators how to integrate technology into the classroom, how to write grants, and space facts that are helpful to catch up on.
Continue Your Professional Development With Center of Innovation and Education
Space Foundation’s Center for Innovation and Education helps equip educators with fresh ideas and lesson plans for students at all grade levels. Visit our teacher’s page to learn more.