Space Center Houston educator awarded 2020 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award

Kaci Hein PhotoCongratulations to Kaci Heins, Space Center University® Director at Space Center Houston, who has been selected to receive the 2020 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award! 

Prior to her time at Space Center Houston, Heins had a distinguished teaching career, during which she was recognized as 2015 Arizona Science Teachers Association Middle School Teacher of the Year, 2014 Flagstaff STEM City Teacher of the Year, and 2014 Air Force Association National Aerospace Teacher of the Year, among other honors.

Since 2016, she’s brought this talent to her oversight of overnight experiences, Stars & STEM, and Explorer Camps for the nonprofit science and space exploration learning center. More than 250,000 educators and students from around the world go to the center annually to benefit from the authentic learning experiences that inspire the next generation of explorers, which Heins is instrumental in developing. She has also established an intern program for Space Center Houston’s education department. Additionally, as Space Center University Director at Space Center Houston, Heins develops innovative mission-based content and new, immersive learning experiences to engage people of all ages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

The 2020 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award

Kaci Hein Zero GravityIt will be presented to Heins at the 36th Space Symposium later this year. 

It was presented by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Space Foundation. Founded in the wake of the Challenger accident in 1986, AMF honors and memorializes 25 astronauts who sacrificed their lives for human space Exploration.

AMF partners with NASA to inspire future generations of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians. Students, teachers, and mentors experience building rockets, robotic competitions, and other hands-on space-related learning activities led by NASA space education specialists.

Heins Has Received Many Accolades and Awards

Kaci Heins at Space Center Houston podiumIn addition to the numerous teaching accolades Heins has received, she was also recipient of the 2017 Space Center Houston Education Leadership Award and the 2016 PBS Digital Learning Media Innovator award. She’s also been awarded the Arizona Science Teachers Association Middle School Teacher of the Year (2015), American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Educator Achievement Award (2015), Flagstaff STEM City Teacher of the Year (2014), Air Force Association National Aerospace Teacher of the Year Award (2014), and Air Force Association Arizona Teacher of the Year Award (2014). 

Her many STEM-related presentations and speaking engagements have included recent appearances as a keynote speaker at the 2019 Society of Women Engineers Houston Chapter’s “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” and the 2019 Arizona Science Teachers Association Conference.

Now Heins can add the 2020 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award from the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, Space Foundation, and NASA to this distinguished list. She was selected for this honor based on her impressive legacy of achievements.

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