Through the Space Station Ambassador Program, more than 2,000 educators across the nation engage their students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education related to the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory. These Ambassadors use Space Station Explorers (SSE) programs and resources to provide valuable educational experiences for their students, such as programming robots on the space station and even the chance to design an experiment that will fly in space.
Each year, the ISS National Lab honors educators who have gone above and beyond to help make SSE partner programs engaging and accessible to their students. Demonstrating excellence in their efforts to engage students in SSE educational programming, these individuals not only bring space station-related activities into their classrooms but also help other educators do the same. As such, we are honoring two educators this year with the Space Station Explorer Exceptional Educator Award and the Tony So Excellence in Education Award.
Space Station Explorers Exceptional Educator Award
This award recognizes educators who have done outstanding work using space station-related programs to engage students in STEM subjects and careers. We would like to recognize Kaci Heins as our newest Exceptional Educator Award winner.
Heins earned this award through her creativity in leveraging space station educational resources in the classroom. As a member of our Space Station Ambassador Program, she was nominated by our SSE partners for her outstanding use of SSE programs.
“I know nothing captures the curiosity and wonder of students like space,” Heins said. “I would like to express my continued support for the ISS National Lab’s work in inspiring and educating the next generation of scientists and engineers. The Space Station Ambassador Program makes a difference, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Tony So Excellence in Education Award
Last year, we lost a dear friend and educational partner, Tony So. He was not only the co-founder of Magnitude.io—a STEM education company and SSE partner program that aims to cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers—but also a passionate educator whose kindness, thoughtfulness, and intelligence permeated every interaction he had with others. So’s impact continues to be a source of inspiration to all who knew him.
Our team created the Tony So Excellence in Education Award to not only honor his legacy but also recognize educators that serve with the same knowledge and kindness that So demonstrated throughout his career and life. We want to congratulate educator Steve Jones, who has been named the second recipient of the Tony So Excellence in Education Award.
Jones is a high school science teacher who has inspired his students to reach for the stars by igniting their creativity and encouraging them to participate in STEM activities. Using SSE programming, he helps his students gain knowledge and confidence by contributing to real science being carried out on the space station. For these achievements, we are proud to honor him as this year’s recipient of the Tony So Excellence in Education Award.
Both of these educators will be presented with their awards at our upcoming ISS Research and Development Conference in Seattle, August 1-3, 2023.
For questions regarding Space Station Explorers, the Space Station Ambassador Program, and how educators can be eligible for these awards, please email [email protected].