Grant sends Nebraska educators to Kennedy Space Center

2016 Midwest Noyce Connections Conference group photo
2016 Midwest Noyce Connections Conference group photo

UNL’s Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education recently gave 14 of Nebraska’s math and science educators the opportunity to visit the Kennedy Space Center for a three-day conference to inspire new curricula in their classrooms. The CSMCE supported the conference through its Midwest Noyce Connections grant, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Joined by four faculty and project managers from UNL, the educators met former NASA astronaut Sam Durrance and connected with distance learning specialists through the Kennedy Space Center. They also received custom tours of the space center, talked payload scenarios with NASA representatives and experienced a simulated shuttle launch.

Nearly 100 teachers and university faculty attended the conference from Noyce projects in 12 Midwestern states. Midwest Noyce Connections is designed to help math and science educators in high-need schools gain leadership skills, connect with peers and ultimately improve their teaching.

Two of the NebraskaNOYCE teachers who attended the conference, Sarah Fischbein and Brianna Pinquoch, also were selected by the Kennedy Space Center to offer suggestions on further integrating math into a week-long summer camp for children. They also witnessed two rocket launches during the trip to Florida.

Pinquoch, a UNL alumna and math teacher at Omaha Central High School, said the Noyce conference gave her multiple ideas for lesson plans that she plans to implement in the near future.

“I want to have my students write proposals to send experiments to the International Space Station, and I want to spend a unit on the solar eclipse before taking my students out to see it in 2017,” Pinquoch said.

Nebraska math teachers made their way to the conference with the support of a NebraskaNOYCE grant led by Wendy Smith, research associate professor with the Center for Science, Math and Computer Education. The state's science teachers received support from a UNL Science Scholars grant headed by Beth Lewis, associate professor of teaching, learning and teacher education.