Veteran science teacher chosen for NASA program
Denise Minor, a science teacher at Henry High School, is one of 28 teachers from across the nation selected as 2020 NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors. This professional development program aims to improve science teaching and increase student learning and STEM engagement. “I am so honored, and this opportunity satisfies a life-long desire to work with NASA,” Minor said. “I can remember the first steps on the moon by a U.S. astronaut and have loved everything space-related since.”
Minor will receive training in astrophysics and planetary science content and pedagogy. Her experience also includes a weeklong immersion at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, and a research flight aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). NASA modified this Boeing 747SP aircraft to carry a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches for a joint project with the German Aerospace Center, DLR.
After Minor returns to Lexington, she will teach a two-week physical science curriculum module created by the SETI Institute that focuses on the electromagnetic spectrum, using SOFIA examples as illustrations. She joins two FCPS colleagues from last year’s group – Ashley Rosen from the STEAM Academy and Heidi Anderson from Bryan Station High School – in working with the SETI Institute.
“I hope to gain a better working knowledge of the research NASA does with respect to the infrared spectrum and how the research impacts us on Earth,” Minor said. “I teach content directly related to the electromagnetic spectrum, light, etc., and I am very excited to implement the NASA curriculum to strengthen what I currently do in my classroom. I want my students to see NASA as more than an agency that sends persons to the ISS (International Space Station). In addition, I want to serve as an example to them that regardless of age, there is always more to learn.”
This is Minor’s 14th year at Henry Clay High School, where she teaches AP Chemistry, Advanced Chemistry, and General Chemistry. She has logged a total of 19 years with Fayette County Public Schools and 23 years in education overall. She previously taught in Terre Haute, Indiana. “I want my students to develop or continue to cultivate a curiosity about the world around them through exposure to phenomena they experience and discuss in my classroom,” Minor said. “I want them to see science in action in all areas of their lives and be life-long learners.”