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Hampton City Schools partners with the National Institute of Aerospace

For the past 11 years, the City of Hampton and Hampton City Schools have had an educator in residence agreement with the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA). This agreement enables a Hampton City Schools teacher to build his/her capacity as a STEM instructional leader through working with STEM education specialists at NIA’s Center for Integrative STEM Education (CISE). Having an educator in residence at NIA positions HCS teachers and students to benefit from NIA’s award-winning educational resources, professional development opportunities, STEM initiatives, and connections to NASA’s Langley Research Center. NIA is a long-standing strategic partner with NASA’s Langley Research Center, NASA’s Science, Human Exploration and Operations, as well as Space Technology Mission Directorates. This partnership enables access to a diverse range of subject matter experts and real-world, inspirational connections into STEM disciplines, discovery and innovation. 

In the last three years, 21 HCS educators and their students have had a direct line of communication to the NASA eClipsTM team and have provided feedback on NASA eClips educational resources. Karen Brace (fifth grade teacher at Machen) and Julie Back (former science teacher at Phoebus High School and Kecoughtan High School) and their students provided recommendations that were used to improve the videos Real World: The Carbon Cycle – Essential to Life on Earthand Ask SME: Dr. Lola Fatoyinbo Agueh - Research Physical Scientist. In August, it was announced that these videos won a regional (National Capital Chesapeake Bay) Emmy award in the category of instructional feature series.

NASA eClips videos, are short, free, educational video segments that inform and engage students in exploring STEM through NASA-inspired, real-world connections. Ask SME videos are developed to capture a glimpse of NASA subject matter experts’ personal interests and career journeys. Each can be used to spark student interest and broaden their ideas of the STEM workforce.

Teachers and students from Bethel High School Media, Arts and Design Academy (MAD), Phoebus High School, and the Spratley Gifted Center have gained valuable experience and added to their professional portfolio by producing NASA Spotlite videos for the NASA Spotlite Design Challenge. Several of these student-produced videos have become part of interactive lessons used in classrooms across the country to address science misconceptions.

After the Bethel MAD Academy students presented their videos, NIA STEM education specialist Joan Harper-Neely said, “Through this authentic learning experience, students developed collaboration, problem-solving, science communication, and video production skills. Students learned that having a team of diverse members enhances the experience and produces a better product. The NASA eClips team was impressed by how well student producers presented their NASA Spotlite videos and discussed their production process with a panel of community members.”

For their work with Bethel’s MAD Academy, NIA received the Academies of Hampton Extended Learning Partner of Excellence Award in 2018.

HCS teachers and students have also benefited from access to NASA and NASA professionals through this partnership. Girls in the HCS Brave Hearts groups at Jones Magnet Middle School, Phenix PreK-8 School, Tarrant Middle School, and Syms Middle School worked with NIA/NASA mentors to investigate magnetism and discuss STEM careers. 

Craig Freeman, elementary science teacher specialist, served as the NIA educator in residence from 2014 to 2017. Current HCS STEM teacher specialist, Betsy McAllister, has served in that capacity since 2017. NASA eClips resources have been included in the HCS science curriculum and will continue to be integrated as the curriculum is updated. Please feel free to reach out to McAllister at bmcallister@hampton.k12.va.us or betsy.mcallister@nianet.org for questions and/or support.