The CASIS education team traveled to San Antonio, Texas to attend the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference from April 10–14, 2013. The conference attracted educators from all over the nation, providing professional development through workshops and presentations on the latest in science education initiatives, such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Attendees also had the opportunity to network with colleagues from both the U.S. and other countries.
So why would CASIS feel the need to attend events like NSTA? The mission of CASIS Education is to utilize the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory as the ultimate learning platform; to support innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs that capitalize on the unique environment of the National Lab. CASIS Education staff members attended the conference to unveil the the ISS National Lab Academy website and introduce the NSTA community to CASIS and to the educational opportunities and resources available on our website.
In the middle grades, students begin to gain career awareness, and it is unfortunately also at this age that U.S. students are most likely to lose interest in science. Three-quarters of U.S. 8th graders are unprepared for high school science and math courses—far behind other countries—and these students show decreased confidence and interest in science compared with younger students .
CASIS Academy (http://www.casisacademy.org/) targets our nation’s youth at this critical age, using the excitement of space as a tool to maintain and improve interest in STEM careers. CASIS Academy features interactive investigations, videos, apps, definitions and a tour of the space station—all designed alongside complementary resources for educators, which are available on the main CASIS Education webpage (https://www.issnationallab.org/Education). The webpage for educators features lesson plans, National Lab research information and other resources, designed to meet national education standards and to promote the easy use of the CASIS Academy as a learning tool.
Our next step is to continue promoting the CASIS Academy at other education events throughout the country. CASIS Education is actively seeking out partnerships and funding for developing current projects and additional education initiatives. The NSTA Conference in San Antonio and future educational conferences provide great networking opportunities to showcase our new projects and web-based resources.