Educators and Experts Collaborate at Space Center Houston’s 26th Space Exploration Educators Conference

HOUSTON, Feb. 7, 2020 – Space Center Houston’s 26th Annual Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) Feb. 6-8 has welcomed more than 600 educators from 12 countries who have traveled to Houston to fulfill the pathway to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). An international convening on space and science learning, SEEC is a three-day hands-on learning experience based in STEM focusing on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Educators have come from Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Japan, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Discovering connections through innovative, cooperative learning experiences, SEEC has inspired educators to develop cross-cultural collaborations to benefit their students and contribute to real scientific research.

“STEM learning is for everyone,” said Daniel Newmyer, vice president of education at Space Center Houston. “SEEC offers an extensive range of immersive STEM curricula led by international science and space experts to support educators of all disciplines, from kindergarten through 12th grade, with space exploration for the next generation of explorers.”

The theme of this year’s conference is “Gateway to Achieve,” inspiring educators to push the frontiers of science and space exploration through more than 160 hands-on workshops led by leading NASA and space experts as well as educators. SEEC’s Expert/Educator Program pairs high performing educators with experts, spurring a multitude of cross-curriculum ideas and ready-to-implement classroom activities.

Educators designed and packed cargo for a mission to Mars during “Tetris in real life,” a session explaining how astronauts prepare for space travel. Experts with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency illustrated flight balance by constructing paper planes for a swing test. Other engaging STEM activities centered on human health research, investigating the search for life beyond Earth and NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the most advanced and powerful rocket will launch astronauts to the Moon and Mars. Through these activities, educators gain the latest teaching tools to take back to the classroom while top experts shed light on what’s happening now in science and human space exploration.

SEEC began with a pre-conference session on Space Survival, a Space Center University® course where educators experience a modified version of helicopter underwater escape training to simulate an emergency exit for astronauts inside a spacecraft.

Mike Kincaid, associate administrator of NASA’s STEM engagement, and astronaut Joseph Acaba kicked off the first day of the conference on Thursday with a joint keynote address. Acaba has logged a total of 306 days in space over three missions. Other speakers and experts include NASA’s leading women supporting missions to return astronauts to the Moon and beyond. Lara Kearney, deputy program manager of NASA’s Gateway Program, delivered Friday’s keynote. NASA’s chief flight director Holly Ridings, the first woman to lead the elite group directing human spaceflight missions, will conclude SEEC with her address on Saturday.

In addition to providing attendees a unique learning experience earning up to 24 hours of continuing education credit, the conference gave educators an up-close look at some of the rarest space artifacts in the world from flown space vehicles to historic rockets. To learn about technology and research advancing NASA’s current and future deep-space missions, educators visited Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center and astronaut training facilities, including the Neutral Buoyancy Lab and Environmental Test Chamber.

Space Center Houston thanks NASA Johnson Space Center, the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, Northrop Grumman, the Civil Air Patrol, Space Station Explorers, the Tranquility Foundation and the Tranquility Masonic Lodge for supporting the 26th annual Space Exploration Educators Conference.

A leading science and space exploration learning center, Space Center Houston encourages people of all ages to get on the STEM pathway and be an active part of future space exploration. For more information on the full range of Space Center Houston’s educational programs, visit spacecenter.org/education.

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The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space exploration learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws more than 1.25 million visitors annually, was named “Best Museum in Texas” by USA Today and generates a $118.7 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center and a Certified Autism Center. More than 250,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to experience the educational space museum with more than 400 things to see and do. For more information, go to spacecenter.org.

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