2 DMS teachers to train with NASA
Ms. Black and Mr. Cullen chosen to train with NASA
Posted on 03/08/2021
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For the first time, NASA, through the SETI Institute, has opened its Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program to middle school teachers. Among the 30 teachers selected from 10 states are Fort Zumwalt DuBray Middle School science teachers Alicia Black and Wesley Cullen. The professional development is designed to improve science teaching and increase student learning and STEM engagement. Black and Cullen are among a group of middle school, high school and community college teachers selected to participate.

Over its history, our NASA-funded AAA program has impacted tens of thousands of high school students through the immersive and inspirational experience of their teachers,” said Bill Diamond, CEO of the SETI Institute. “This powerful STEM program will allow the SETI Institute to help bring NASA science into classrooms across the country.”


Black yearbook photoCullen yearbook photo AAA teachers receive training in astrophysics and planetary science. Their training includes a week-long STEM immersion experience at a NASA astronomy research facility such as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). After their training, the AAAs teach a physical science curriculum module created by the SETI Institute that connects curriculum concepts to NASA- and SOFIA-enabled research.  


“We are grateful that NASA will be funding the AAA program through 2025 and are especially excited to be adding middle school and community college teachers and their students,” said Dr. Dana Backman, AAA program lead. “These teachers will use their professional development and SOFIA experiences to convey real-world content to their students that illuminate the value of scientific research and the wide variety of STEM career paths available to them.”


Last year, four Fort Zumwalt high school teachers participated in the program. East High’s Joe Leibner and Tom Ogle, North High’s Nick Fisher and West High’s Melissa Bouquet are looking forward to completing the training postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Learn more about this year’s class of Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors.

Hear a conversation with last year’s Fort Zumwalt participants.