The Space Foundation chose a Missouri S&T student and her mentor teacher at Rolla Middle School to attend the 34th Space Symposium this month. They will serve as teacher liaisons at the symposium April 16-19 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Marisa Tompkins, a senior at Missouri S&T majoring in multidisciplinary studies with an emphasis in elementary education, and Amanda Almany, a fifth grade mathematics and science teacher at Rolla Middle School who oversees S&T education students through field experiences, are two out of 31 educators the Space Foundation selected to join its 2018 Teacher Liaison Program.
The Teacher Liaison Program influences space and science education at an international level, according to the Space Foundation. Teacher liaisons advocate for space-themed education and use Space Foundation-provided training and resources to integrate space principles into the classroom.
Tompkins participated in the 2017 Space Symposium as an attendee and will experience a deeper level of commitment this year.
“I look forward to all the experiences I will have at the symposium as a teacher liaison,” says Tompkins, who plans to teach upper elementary mathematics and science after she graduates. “I’m excited to meet with teachers from around the world, talk with them about how they teach space education and come away with new ideas of my own.”
“I have always had an interest in space education, so I am very honored to be a part of this incredible experience,” says Almany. “I am looking forward to learning new ideas and becoming even more inspired. I am most excited about meeting and collaborating with other educators and space leaders from around the world.”
A new flight of teacher liaisons is selected every January. This year’s liaisons, who represent 14 U.S. States, India and Nigeria, were chosen for their active promotion of space and science education. According to the Space Foundation Discovery Center, teacher liaisons tend to be master teachers who want to inspire the next generation of students to excel in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Founded in 2004, the Space Foundation Teacher Liaison program is funded by Lockheed Martin.
“Participating in the Space Symposium and collaborating with pre-school through college curriculum educators is a wonderful professional development opportunity for our students,” says Kelly Carter, interim chair of Missouri S&T’s teacher education and certification department, who encouraged Tompkins and Almany to apply for the program. Through mentoring S&T teacher education students and cooperating teachers, Carter makes an effort to get more youth interested in and prepared to study STEM fields in college.
To stay active in the program, which now has more than 200 liaisons, teacher liaisons must meet annual requirements in community outreach, teacher education, Space Foundation connection and student engagement. Missouri’s 2017 teacher liaisons, Frances Manahan, an S&T applied mathematics major with secondary education emphasis, and Jessika Zink, a Rolla Middle School teacher and cooperating teacher for S&T’s field experiences, will also attend the symposium and be recognized for their teaching of space principles this past year.
More information about the Teacher Liaison Program and about the Space Symposium can be found on the Space Foundation’s website.