Teachers reach for the stars
Last week along with NASA, educators from around the United States and Puerto Rico landed in Salt Lake City for a conference at the University of Utah.
The group of 89 teachers ventured up to Park City for a star party hosted by Utah Skies but when the weather did not cooperate they headed home after a week of networking as part of the bi-annual Our Star the Sun Star Partners Conference.
The group was comprised of educators in grades K-12, many of whom are working to qualify as NASA master teachers. This endeavor requires six years of experience in their field of expertise, and participation in conferences similar to the one held last week.
"It was to exchange ideas, to further their ideas about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to bring some new ideas into their classrooms," said NASA heliophysics division support manager Catherine Mikkelsen.
A press release referred to the conference as an opportunity, "to continue to reach out to the people that educate our future scientists and engineers of the twenty-first century."
The division Mikkelsen works for sponsors the project, and she said it was a pleasure to see what kind of curriculum the teachers have been developing.
"There was one who gave a presentation on ice and how it affects our planet," Mikkelsen said.
Another project that struck her was watching an instructor fit a boiled egg into a milk bottle. She revealed the secret of the trick, "you light a piece of paper, drop it in the bottle and it expands."
Mekkelsen said of all the things she saw at the conference, her favorite part was witnessing the teachers’ passion.
"They are just totally dedicated to teaching," she said. "They’re so willing to participate in anything that will further their education."
She also noted how resourceful they are.
"I walked away with an idea of how much our teachers do with so little," she said.
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Park City intends to soon seat an internal task force that will study issues within the municipal government itself related to the LGBTQ community.