Education

Teacher-Astronaut Outlines Her Role for Shuttle Operations

By David J. Hoff — April 09, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Once Barbara R. Morgan enters orbit, she’ll be monitoring pictures of Earth, preparing astronauts to walk in space, and eventually assisting the space shuttle’s flight team as it lands the craft.

But while doing all of that, the educator-astronaut told science teachers meeting here last month, she will also be helping teachers show their students the science behind the 11-day mission that she and the rest of the crew will be conducting.

“Education will be tied in directly with the goals of the mission,” Ms. Morgan said in an interview after addressing a luncheon audience at the National Science Teachers Association’s annual convention. The event marked her most extensive public appearance since the space shuttle Columbia crashed in February on its return trip to Earth.

Explore the NASA Explorer Schools program, at the National Science Teachers Association.

Ms. Morgan had been scheduled to fly on the Columbia later this year, but her mission and the rest of NASA’s shuttle program are on hold while the cause of the crash is investigated. (“Shuttle Crash Fails to Deter NASA Interest,” Feb. 12, 2003.)

When the mission does get under way, she told an audience of teacher colleagues interested in aerospace education, her educational work will be so important that the patch commemorating the flight will include images of an apple and the torch of knowledge.

While on board the space shuttle, Ms. Morgan promises to be in touch with teachers and children all over the United States and Canada. She’ll use ham radios, e-mail, and video downlinks to talk with students and teach them about the flight’s mission and the science behind it.

On days when she and the rest of the crew will be too busy to get in touch with schools, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will provide curriculum materials directly related to the shuttle’s task of the day so teachers can keep students informed of the mission’s progress.

Waiting Her Turn

In 1986, Ms. Morgan, then a 3rd grade teacher in McCall, Idaho, was the backup to New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe, who died along with the rest of the crew when the shuttle Challenger exploded. Ms. Morgan waited 12 years before NASA invited her to start full-time training for a shuttle mission. (“Idaho Teacher to Train for Space Flight,” Jan. 28, 1998.)

Even though her flight date remains uncertain, Ms. Morgan is actively preparing to fly, she told the luncheon audience, a small portion of the 13,000 educators who attended the March 26-30 convention. Several in the audience were part of NASA’s Teacher-in-Space program in the 1980s, which launched Ms. Morgan’s second career as an astronaut.

While on board the shuttle, Ms. Morgan said, she will be a “space walk choreographer” who will help two astronauts leave the shuttle and attach a new section to the International Space Station. She will help the space walkers put on their equipment and ensure they have everything they need. Once they leave the shuttle, she will coach them through completing their job.

When the shuttle re-enters the earth’s atmosphere, she will help the pilot and the commander as they navigate the spacecraft to landing.

The experience of preparing for her shuttle mission has helped the teacher-turned-astronaut relearn one key element to success in the classroom: With time and practice, all students will eventually learn the tasks they need to succeed.

In a separate announcement made at the convention, NASA officials said that the science teachers’ association would administer the space agency’s new Explorer Schools program. Through the program, 50 schools will be selected to send teams of teachers to NASA facilities for summer professional development. The program will start in the 2003-04 school year by supporting projects serving grades 5-8.

Over the course of three years, according to NSTA, the program will help the teachers and administrators revise their mathematics and science curricula to include real-life examples from NASA projects. It also will give students information about careers at NASA and other scientific organizations.

The schools also will receive up to $10,000 each to buy equipment needed to make the changes in the classroom.

The project replaces a series of workshops that the NSTA conducted to educate teachers about the space agency’s work.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP