Friday, November 22, 2013

On November 21, 2013 (at 2:10 AM), Ecuador successfully launched its second satellite from Russia: Krysaor (NEE-02). It was a historic event filled with much excitement and, as the education consultant for the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (EXA), great expectations for our 21st century students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Go Ecuador!

To view a video of the event, go to:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Musings of a Veteran Teacher - Margot Solberg

            Here I sit at my teacher’s desk at 6:30 in the morning. Why so early, you ask? Because it’s a gift that renews me…fills my soul. Allow me to clarify. I sit here – after a little yoga and a hot bath at home (yes, I skipped the gym this morning) - with a cup of coffee, Windham Hill playing in the background, in my pajamas (I think I have the only job in the world where one can use Pajama Day as an excuse not to get dressed), looking at the outside drizzle and expectant with what the day will bring. Today I know that I will play, teach, learn, laugh, be silly…all the while knowing that I’ve made an impact on the world – today and, hopefully, long after my time on this planet. Having a job where one can create, while surrounded by bright-eyed, eager children, is a gift like no other.

            Yes, I spend many long hours working on what I love (creating authentic learning…usually through space connections), and what I don’t (the bureaucratic underpinnings that comes along with any occupation).This often means extensive hours and a struggle in balance, but it’s a choice; and one I gladly take on, because the outcomes are tenfold.  Yes, there are always challenges along the way – some of them very hard lessons – but coming out on the other side makes the journey all the richer. Lest I sound utopian, it isn’t all peaches and cream. But what life-changing journeys aren’t?

            I’ve been teaching for 19 years now, in both public and private schools, so I have a reference point from which to expound upon. I also have three munchkins of my own who keep me grounded, or at least they try.  Nonetheless as Gene Krantz, the Lead Flight Director of Apollo 13 once shared with a group of likeminded educators and myself, I want to leave this life “well spent”.  Teaching is a great gift; wrinkles and hardships included…let the day begin.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Innovative Classroom Workshop - Universidad San Francisco de Quito

La clase innovadora
El objetivo de La clase innovadora es compartir
estrategias e instrucción que les dará a los
participantes inspiración para enseñar
utilizando formas nuevas y creativas. La sesión
e dividirá en dos partes: manejo de la clase
creativa, y cómo incorporar la ciencia
aeroespacial en el aula a fin de incrementar
interés de los estudiantes en ciencia, tecnología,
ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM).
Este último punto tiene relevancia especial dado
que Ecuador presentará en breve su segundo
satélite con fines educativos. Incluso tendrás
la oportunidad de participar en un proyecto de
desarrollo profesional de corto plazo de la
NASA y la Agencia Espacial Ecuatoriana Civil
(EXA). ¡Ven para inspirarte! Será una
experiencia altamente motivadora para        
educadores con cualquier nivel de experiencia.

Jueves 17 de octubre 2013
15h30 a 18h00
(Confirmación de registro con

inscripción previa
frente al Teatro de 14h30 a 15h30)
Teatro Casa Blanca, Universidad
San Francisco de Quito
Margot Solberg

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Presenting at the 64th International Astronautical Congress in Beijing, China

Chinese Shenzhou launch vehicle.
From September 23 to 27 I had the privilege to present and participate in the 64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Beijing, China (see The IAC is an annual event, held globally, in order to bring the top people in their professional fields together for the purpose of promoting space development for the benefit of mankind. This event includes the publication of current space science research, the presentation of technical sessions, plenary sessions, highlight lectures, technical visits, an astounding exhibition and much more. On this occasion I was honored to represent the educational sector of the following organizations: Academia Cotopaxi, the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (EXA) and the NASA Endeavor Fellowship Program.
Head of NASA, Charles Bolden
Chinese Shenzhou Capsule.
First female Japanese astronaut, Chiaki Mukai.
The paper presented for the educational sector of the technical sessions, and co-authored with Ecuadorian astronaut Ronnie Nader, was titled, “The Effects on Math Achievement and Self-Efficacy when Incorporating Satellite Education in a 4th Grade Classroom.” The paper is an extension of the ongoing aerospace activities which have been embedded into my curriculum - when applicable to the educational standards being taught at any one time - and with the goal of bringing authentic learning to the school environment. Before initiating this action research project, a literature review revealed that little has been published regarding the implementation of satellite education research in the regular classroom. Furthermore, review of the body of work to date revealed that the undertaking of such an innovative approach to education would: address the need to better prepare our students for 21st century expectations, satisfy the core objectives of the US national math standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), implement research-based teaching practices, and have positive impacts on attitudes towards math, science and technology.
NASA astronaut, Sandy Mangus.
Business meeting as a representative of the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency.
NASA astronaut, Leland Melvin
The methodology of this project included the use of live, weather satellite downloads, made possible through the utilization of a virtual ground station in the classroom, as provided by EXA. Throughout the school year, math lessons utilized this real-time data when implementing – and adjusting as needed for better implementation in South America - targeted math lessons developed by NASA’s Weather Data Learning Center. Data collection was both qualitative and quantitative, and the triangulation of this information included: student and parent surveys, journal reflections, interviews, photographs, videos, observations and math assessments (both standardized and internal). Analysis of the data revealed that when authentic, satellite education was embedded into the curriculum, students showed a notable increase in both their attitudes and achievement in mathematics. Additionally, the media in both the local and international community took an interest in this pioneering approach to education.
As the educational consultant for EXA, the congress was also an opportunity to network and plan with others; a position which has proven beneficial in bringing the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives to our school over the last 6 years.
NASA astronaut, Leroy Chiao.
Global Networking Forum
Personally speaking, the highlights of the congress involved many occasions where upon I was able to sit next to, and converse with, astronauts, heads of agencies, scientists and engineers participating in cutting edge explorations. As an example, at one moment Canadian astronaut, Robert Thirsk, was giving me resources to learn more about tomato seed flown on the International Space Station (ISS), and then I turn around and am able to ask human space science researcher, Dr. Sutton, rarely known statistics regarding Felix Baumgartner’s recent jump from the edge of space. As our Lower School students had, at two grade levels, followed the myriad of advancements of this historical jump - leading up to, during, and after this 2012 historic event (Felix even sent the students autographed photos!)  – I knew that our students would be very interested in learning more about what Dr.Sutton had to say. If interested in viewing this specific example of how aerospace developments can be incorporated into the curriculum, you can view the “Parachute Math…” student video on their blog at
Dr. Jeffery Sutton, NASA space medicine researcher.
Also worth sharing is that during one Highlight Lecture, given by a NASA’s ISS Program Scientist, Ecuador was included on a slide that showed the 44 countries that have utilized the International Space Station to date. What is important to be aware of is that Ecuador was included in this international presentation because of the educational initiatives that Academia Cotopaxi has aboard the ISS…twice!

Canadian astronaut, Robert Thirsk.
The Great Wall!
With World Space Week quickly following the IAC event (October 4 to 10), Skype chat opportunities for the AC Community will be offered and – shortly thereafter – posted on our student blog at These chats will include our Ecuadorian astronaut (Commander Ronnie Nader), Ecuadorian NASA engineer for the International Space Station (Juniper Jairala), and current manager for Space X/retired NASA risk-manager for the ISS (Michael Lutomski).  Research shows that it’s through sharing the excitement of learning in ways that are engaging, hands-on and authentic that our 21st century learners will best be able to contribute to our world now and in the future.
To the Moon, Mars and beyond!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Presenting at the first Science & Technology Youth Conference in Machala, Ecuador

      On May 28th, high school students from the Science & Technology Obelisk Club in Machala, located in the south of Ecuador, invited me to be a speaker at their first Science & Technology Youth Congress; which took place a the Machala Technical University. The topic included aerospace education opportunities, as well as information on the ASTERIA satellite pilot program.
      After presenting to an audienc of 300 hundred students, comprised of several high schools, club members then took me to their school (Colegio 9 de Octubre), where I was pleasantly surprised by a greeting of 2,000 applauding students...Wow!
     To top off the day, I was then welcomed by the Vice-Governor of the Oro Province, and gifted many lovely items; including a colorful, handmade hat made out of banana fibers. I was then shown the beautiful new room that the governor's office is letting the science club students use so that they can have a meeting place, and it will soon be stocked with computers as well...Bravo!

     After getting to know these students in the course of this school year, I am very impressed by their motivation, engagement and leadership skills; especially with respect to their inspiring club president, Rony Torres. These kids are movers and shakers, and I look forward to watching them lead the way for Ecuador's youth!      

Friday, May 24, 2013

Keynote speaker at the first Science & Technology Youth Congress in Machala, Ecuador. Topic will be "Space Science and the ASTERIA Satellite Pilot Program".

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ecuadorian High School Obelisk Science & Tech Club Students Share Their Thoughts (in Spanish)

High school students from The Science & Technology Obelisk Club in Machala, Ecuador, share their perspectives on our upcoming Science & Technology Youth Congress 2013 on May 28th, 2013; as well as the direction that Ecuador is heading with regard to space exploration. (Video in Spanish).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Radio Quito Interview with Andres Carrion about Pegasus (NEE-01) Satellite for Educational Purposes - In Spanish

This radio interview (in Spanish), took place on April 26, 2013,  the day following the launch of Ecuador's first satellite, Pegasus; made possible through the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (EXA).

The purpose of the interview was to share the embedded satellite education taking place in my classroom since piloting "A Satellite in the Classroom" Program in 2009, as well as how Pegasus - with its live camera onboard -  would now be used to implement the second pilot program, titled ASTERIA. The objective of this second program, a collaboration between Academia Cotopaxi and two other Ecuadorian schools, is  to learn how to apply this new technological tool within the classroom, and with the purpose of then sharing this newfound information for the benefit of others.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ecuador TV (ECTV): Interviews Regarding Pegasus Satellite and the ASTERIA Education Program

(The video is in Spanish, with English subtitles)
ECTV interviews Ecuador's only astronaut, Commander Ronnie Nader, regarding the educational implications to be derived from launching its first satellite, Pegasus. Interviews also include teachers from the schools participating in this ASTERIA pilot program.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ecuadorian Ministry of Education Nomination - Innovation in Education Category

We didn't win the award, but the students and I were very proud to have had a representative from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education nominate us for our efforts in embedding satellite education into the math curriculum!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  On October 27, 2012, at Universidad San Francisco Quito, I had the pleasure of providing 3 classroom blogging workshops for Ecuadorian educators. It was both enlightening and an honor to have been able to learn along with others.