Bringing Space Science Down to Earth for Preservice Elementary Teachers

Toni Ivey, Nicole Colston, Julie Thomas


This article reports on a collaborative enterprise between [location blinded for review] NASA Education Projects and science education faculty at a Midwestern University preservice elementary teachers (PSTs) to engage approximately 400 middle school students for a 20-minute live downlink with Commander Kevin Ford from the International Space Station (ISS).  NASA supports this opportunity through a competitive proposal process (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2014).  The project’s theme, Pioneers in Space: STEM Careers on the Space Frontier, engaged both PSTs and middle school students in discussing the benefits of space research, while drawing on themes relevant to students’ regional history.  PSTs prepared Pioneers in Space instructional units and led classroom activities linking 6th grade state science standards.  The desired outcome was to promote a greater understanding of how space exploration benefits society and contributes to STEM innovations.  This paper reports on how curriculum design and leadership experiences in space education and outreach impacted the PST participants. 


elementary teacher preparation; space science; experiential learning; middle school; science education research

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