Two Fayette teachers selected for NASA’s airborne astronomy program
The SETI Institute has partnered with 14 school districts in eight states, including Fayette County Public Schools, for the 2019 NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) program. Heidi Anderson of Locust Trace AgriScience Center and Ashley Rosen of the STEAM Academy are among the 28 teachers chosen for the program, which Rosen called a great opportunity to learn about content in a real-world setting and share an extraordinary experience with students.
The professional development for high school science teachers aims to improve science teaching and learning and to increase student STEM engagement. AAA participants receive training in astrophysics and planetary science, content, and pedagogy. Their training includes a week-long immersion experience at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Hangar 703 in Palmdale, California, with participation in research flights onboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). This highly modified Boeing 747SP airliner is fitted with a 106-inch telescope and a suite of seven cameras and spectrographs to study celestial objects at infrared wavelengths. SOFIA operates during 10-hour overnight science missions at altitudes between 39,000 and 45,000 feet, above more than 99 percent of the water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere that blocks infrared light from reaching ground-based observatories.
AAA culminates in classroom delivery of a SOFIA science-oriented curriculum module. Impact on student STEM learning and engagement will be measured by WestEd education evaluators. The SETI Institute has managed the AAA program since its inception in 2011.
“When I was a little girl, NASA and the space program were often in the news as a point of national pride and a window into the profound,” Anderson said. “This (airborne astronomy) program is ideal to bring real exploration of fundamental truths about the universe to kids, who I hope will be inspired to do exploring of their own.”
Anderson, a National Board Certified teacher who has been with FCPS for 18 years, guides Physics, Chemistry, and Biology classes at Locust Trace. “Excitement and enthusiasm for discovery is like magic in a classroom. Mystery and wonder drive dedication to learn more and apply more of what you do know than any quiz, test, or grade,” she said.
Anderson earned a bachelor’s in Biology from Kentucky Wesleyan College and her master’s degrees in Entomology and Education from the University of Kentucky. Raised in Kouts, Indiana, she has lived in Nicholasville for the past 25 years.
Rosen is in her fourth year at STEAM, where she teaches Introductory Physics with Earth and Space Science and serves as the school technology coordinator. “Science is best learned through hands-on experimentation and practice. When students can see what is happening, they tend to understand it more. Taking the approach of project-based learning in my classes allows for that to happen,” she said.
A native of Belfry, Rosen earned a B.S. in Biological Science Education (8-12) and Middle School Science (5-9) from Alice Lloyd College and a Master’s of Education in Instructional Technology (P-12) from the University of Louisville. She also has a Specialist in Education in School Leadership, along with School Technology Certification from the University of Kentucky. Rosen has been with FCPS for 10 years.