Saturday, October 4, 2014

Presenting at the 65th International Astronautical Congress (Toronto, Canada)

     From September 29th to October 3rd I had the privilege of participating and presenting in the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto, Canada. The paper presented, titled "Engaging Satellite Education and Outreach Through Ecuador's ASTERIA Program", can be viewed at:

Bill Nye the Science Guy
takes a selfie
Chairman of the Indian Space
Research Organization
 - K. Radhakrishnan
Canadian astronaut
Jeremy Hansen
     The Plenary session with heads of commercial human spaceflight confirmed how important it is to be cultivating ethos such as innovation, risk-taking, and collaboration with our 21st century students. The world truly is their oyster.
Space X: Barry Matsumori
Business dev. & sales
     A highlight was meeting a true hero, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Watch his impactful social media video at: He's a teacher's dream when it comes to inspiring kids in STEM.
Canadian astronaut legend
Chris Hadfield

During a Global Networking Forum, NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan emphasized the importance of making connections between using NOAA satellites (which my students have used for several years now) & taking action to address world challenges. At an astronaut panel (I love the informality of learning from these pioneers), the topic of "sustainability" - in every aspect of our world - was given much weight.

Astronaut panel: Michael Lopez-Alegria (NASA),
Chiaki Mukai (first female astronaut from Japan),
John Bartoe (NASA) and Sandy Magnus.
They look serious here,
but it was actually a lighthearted and interesting audience exchange
International Astronautical
Student hands-on exploratory
     Other highlights included representing Ecuador at the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), and getting some hands-on ideas at the student expo. Themes which stood out included: space technology being in everything we use all the time (cell phones, apps, etc) and yet the general public often being unaware of the extent of these contributions, the importance of students having access to space education (which is broad enough to reach all interests), and remarking on why our world needs to cultivate visionaries. Watch the inspirational trailer of "The Amazing You" ( where it is asked how we can transform the question,  "How can I be rewarded?" to "What do I have to contribute?"

     While students and their parents have always enthusiastically understood how space exploration can be used in the classroom to motivate students and teach authentic learning, there are often others who just don't "get it"; seeing the topic as limiting or not within the borders of curricular content. Let me clarify and say, the topic of aerospace is well beyond content (it's so broad that any aspect can be incorporated into the teaching standards and bring the subject matter life), it's all about teaching a MINDSET. Listen to what is being said by the pioneers in the videos below, and maybe you'll have a better idea of why I continue to link aerospace activities within the classroom. Learning in the 21st century is about: "not knowing what you can't do", breaking perceived limits, drive, feeling the palpable energy like there's a "crackle in the air", resilience, only being limited by what one can imagine, innovation, managed risk-taking ... and being in an environment where one has the freedom and flixibility to practice and pursue these necessary skills. The Right Brothers Effect. Check these out:  
     (21:15-24:12, video below) I ask a question of NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan, the first American astronaut to walk in space & now NOAA Administrator, her advice in making satellite education increasingly relevant with regard to Earth observations. My students download live weather satellite images from NOAA satellites, using a virtual classroom ground station (made possible by the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (EXA), and then organize and analyze their data in order to make learning meaningful in the classroom. Dr. Sullivan's response was, of course, right on target...use data to help answer a question which is meaningful and pertinent to our environment.

(32:57-36:11) "Astronaut Event" Question and Answer Session at the IAC:

No comments: