NASA Expanding Its Teaching Plan

By William Snider — September 17, 1986 1 min read

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration last week completed development of a five-year plan aimed at expanding the agency’s support for the teaching of aerospace and space sciences in the nation’s classrooms.

Under the plan, NASA will develop new interactive software programs to be distributed free to teachers for use in explaining concepts in such areas as astronomy, planetary geology, and space flight.

The software and a library of aerospace and space-science information will be available to teachers through a computerized data base that should be in operation by early next year, said William D. Nixon, chief of NASA’S educational-affairs division.

In addition, the system’s operator will answer callers’ questions about NASA’S major projects and education programs.

The agency is’ also exploring the possibility of initiating monthly satellite broadcasts to schools similar to those planned for the teacher-in-space program, Mr. Nixon said. The broadcasts, which would include instructional programs and information on NASA activities, would be interactive, permitting program presenters to be questioned.

Regular broadcasts would help the agency reach more students, Mr. Nixon predicted, noting that previous NASA satellite broadcasts have reached some 2,000 school districts. The new broadcasts could begin early next year if the necessary satellite time can be obtained, he said.

Morgan Returns to Classroom

In another NASA development, Barbara R Morgan, the teacher who has been designated to be the first private citizen in space when the agency resumes space-shuttle flights, has returned to teaching after a year’s leave to work with the teacher-in-space program. She teaches a 3rd-grade class in McCall, Idaho.

Ms. Morgan, who was runner-up to Sharon Christa McAuliffe in the teacher-in-space competition, remains under contract to NASA and will be involved in some of the agency’s outreach programs this year, according to Pamela M. Bacon, coordinator of the teacher-in-space program.

Six of the remaining eight finalists in the program will continue working with NASA’S educational-affairs division this year, Ms. Bacon said. The other two have elected to return to their classrooms.’

A version of this article appeared in the September 17, 1986 edition of Education Week as NASA Expanding Its Teaching Plan