OMAHA - After a week learning from NASA scientists, University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) educator Amelia Squires is ready to share her knowledge with others in Omaha.
Squires, UNO's STEM Outreach Coordinator, spent Sunday, June 28, through Friday, July 3, at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas at the LiftOff Summer Institute. The program is sponsored by NASA's Texas Space Grant Consortium and competitively selects teachers from across the nation to participate.
In her role at UNO, Squires works with UNO's Office of STEM Education to coordinate and promote programs that feature a community engagement component, such as the yearly EUREKA!-STEM summer camp, which partners with Girls Inc. of Omaha, or River City Robotics competition, a tie-in to the annual River City Rodeo, which brings students from across the metro to design and operate robots which compete in rodeo-themed contests.
The workshops at this year's LiftOff were organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs. The theme for LiftOff 2015 was Living in Freefall! The primary focus was on microgravity, living and working on the International Space Station, and training for long-duration missions.
There has been a permanent human presence on the space station since 2000. Onboard the ISS, crew members live and work in a reduced gravity environment. This environment allows crew members to conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology that could not be done on Earth. It also offers a rare opportunity for the testing of the spacecraft systems that will be required for missions to Mars and the Moon.
The week included presentations by Dr. Liz Warren, Operations Lead for the International Space Station; lessons on spacewalk preperation and engineering challenges during freefall; visits to NASA's astromaterial lab to view moon rocks and meteorities; and discussions with astronauts, including Nebraska's own Clay Anderson.
While Anderson discussed his experiences living and working on the ISS, astronaut Don Pettit shared stories of experiments conducted on the ISS, including numerous Saturday Morning Science activities he conducted during free time aboard the ISS, and Leroy Chiao told about his spaceflight experiences.
"The presentations we received from actual NASA engineers and astronauts will only lend credibility and expertise to what we can now bring back to our classrooms, peers and to the community," Squires said. "I am also fortunate that I got behind-the-scenes tours of Johnson Space Center. These are unforgettable experiences that I can share with students in my outreach programs to inspire them to pursue STEM interests and maybe work for NASA one day."
Questions about UNO's STEM efforts and connections to NASA can be directed to Charley Reed, Associate Director of Media Relations, at 402.554.2129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about the Texas Space Grant Consortium can be directed to Margaret Bagiou, at 512.471.6922 or email@example.com.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.