Harmony Times

Harmony Teachers Fly with NASA

The SETI Institute, in partnership with NASA, is looking for a few good science teachers to join the organization on the edges of space as part of its Astronomy Airborne Ambassadors (AAA) Program.

Selected teachers will join SETI  aboard the largest airborne observatory in the world: an extensively modified Boeing 747 dubbed “SOFIA” (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy).

Onboard, they’ll have access to a console dedicated for use by participating teachers.

The extended experience for teachers includes a blended model of professional development: Online training, an in-person workshop on the 3-Dimensional curricular component, and a one-week STEM immersion experience in California that includes an overnight flight aboard SOFIA.

After their training and STEM immersion experiences, participant teachers implement in their classes a 10-day curriculum module regarding the electromagnetic spectrum and multi-wavelength astronomy that was developed by SETI Institute staff specifically for the AAA program.

Harmony Public Schools are partnered with the SETI Institute as part of a NASA cooperative agreement supporting the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) program.

Levent Sakar of Harmony Schools joined AAA flight facilitators, four teachers, another district representative, and a Congressional staffer onboard SOFIA for an overnight research flight. During the flight, scientists acquired infrared images and spectra of 10 objects ranging from a comet in our Solar System to a distant active galaxy with a central supermassive black hole. Read here about Mr. Sakar’s experience. 

Deadline to apply for AAA’s 2020-2021 cycle is January 7, 2021.

To learn more or apply, click here.

Teacher Eligibility and Expectations:

  • Be entering at least their 3rd year of full-time teaching during 2021-22.
  • Have at least 1 year of experience teaching Physical Science, Earth & Space Science, Astronomy, Astrobiology, or Integrated Science.
  • Expect to be teaching at least 1 class with electromagnetic spectrum content during the 2021-22 school year. [We understand that teaching assignments may not be definite this far in advance.]
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Be in good general health, e.g. able to climb steep staircases unassisted.
  • Be recommended for participation by a peer review panel (competitive selection process).
  • Have eligibility vetted and approved for participation by sponsoring district and school, post-application.
  • (Application opportunity for 2021 participation will be open Nov. 9, 2020  to Jan. 7, 2021.)

Expected teacher participation / contributions / commitments:

  • Professional development participation: Approximately 25 hours of self-paced online training, 2 hours per month of teleconferences & webinars, and 8 in-person hours (full-day workshop or equivalent virtual experience).
  • Teacher participants will travel to a NASA facility during immersion week.  [Please note: this means leaving the classroom for that week.]
  • Participate in pre- and post-immersion week trainings and meetings regarding relevant scientific research programs.
  • Implement a 2-week classroom curriculum unit covering electromagnetic spectrum and infrared astronomy, aligned to appropriate level content and skills. Selected AAAs will be trained on curriculum components and implementation.
  • Participate actively in ongoing evaluation of the AAA program.

NASA AAA program commitments to teachers / teacher benefits:

  • STEM immersion week will include at least 1 overnight observatory experience, NASA facility tours, and meetings with NASA subject matter experts (SMEs; scientists, engineers, and other professionals).
  • Travel expenses for required pre-flight meetings and flight will be paid by the AAA program.
  • Flight facilitators/escorts present during STEM immersion week at a NASA facility, either Palmdale, CA, or Mauna Kea, HI.
  • Materials and supplies needed to implement lessons, delivered to the school site by the AAA program.
  • Personalized NASA jacket.
  • Optional inclusion in a national public engagement and education group for ongoing communication opportunities and support.

School District commitments:

  • Support teacher’s week-long absence from the classroom and participation in webinars.
  • Cover the cost of substitute teachers during flight week.
  • Complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SETI Institute no later than January 7, 2021.

Check Out Our Harmony Teachers’ Experiences From Last Year’s Program: