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LiftOff to Best Practices in K-12 Engineering Curriculum Design

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Addressing the NGSS, Part 2 of 3: Supporting K-12 Science Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy and Engineering-Science Connections, Part 2 of 3

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.868.1 - 24.868.14



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Paper Authors


Margaret Baguio University of Texas at Austin

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Margaret Baguio is the senior education and outreach coordinator for NASA's Texas Space Grant Consortium in Austin, Texas. She has worked for over 30 years in youth development and education. During that time, Margaret has worked in public schools, for the Texas Cooperative Extension Service 4-H & Youth Development Program, managed a USDA science and literacy project for at-risk youth, and promoted space education to students, teachers, and the general public through the Texas Space Grant Consortium.

Margaret received her bachelor of science degree and secondary teacher certification from Texas State University and a master's in education from the University of Houston. In addition, she has completed postgraduate studies at Texas A & M University.

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Wallace T. Fowler P.E. University of Texas, Austin

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Wallace Fowler holds the Paul D. and Betty Robertson Meek Centennial Professorship in the department of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas, Austin, where he has been on the faculty since 1965. His areas of teaching and research are dynamics, orbital mechanics, spacecraft and space mission design, and aircraft flight testing. He is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the AIAA/ASEE John Leland Atwood Award and the ASEE Fred Merryfield Design Award. He is a member of the University of Texas, Austin Academy of Distinguished Teachers and a Fellow of both ASEE and AIAA. He served as president of ASEE in 2000-2001.

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Susana Ramirez PSJA ISD

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Susana Ramirez currently serves as the elementary science coordinator for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She is currently in her 13th year with the district. She has taught second grade and science in fifth, seventh, and eighth grades. She served as a professor at the University of Texas, Pan American (UTPA) in fall 2006. She was a member of the UTPA Regional Collaborative for Science 2002-07, a member of the Texas Regional Collaborative for Science 2007 -12, and a member of Texas Earth and Space Science Revolutions 2007-12. She was selected as a 2010 NASA Heliophysics Ambassador and received the 2009 Texas Medical Association Ernest and Sarah Butler Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. She was selected as the 2008 Toyota Science Teacher of the Year for Texas and the Texas Science Mentor Teacher of the Year 2005. She is the grant coordinator and past president of the Rio Grande Valley Science Association, current treasurer for the Texas Education Leadership Association, current president for the Texas Council of Elementary Science and currently is working with NASA’s Texas Space Consortium, UT-Austin, and UTPA on a $750,000 grant from NASA. She served as the 2013 program coordinator of the National Science Teachers Association in San Antonio, Texas. Susana has been selected four times to participate in the LiftOff Summer Institute at NASA JSC in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013. She currently serves as chair of the curriculum development committee for the LiftOff Summer Institute.

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LiftOff (K-12 Engineering Resources: Best Practices in Curriculum Design)NASA has 52 Space Grant Consortia spread across the United States. A primary focus of theconsortia is the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)education at all levels to enhance our nation’s high technology workforce.One of the 52 Space Grant Consortia has offered a four-to-five day summer program for K-12educators at NASA JSC every year since 1990. Space Grant’s primary focus and highestleverage in pre-college education is the professional development of K-12 educators. Theobjective of the LiftOff Summer Institute is to provide the attendees with materials that can beused both to excite their students about STEM learning across disciplines and to meet state,national, and common core standards. The consortium has established the following goals for itsK-12 educator development. - Inspire and motivate students at all levels to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). - Enhance K-12 educator knowledge in STEM cross-curricular space related fields. - Increase K-12 student knowledge in STEM education through age-appropriate space related activities. - Increase underrepresented and underserved participation. - Enhance career exploration by including space science professionals, NASA employees, and NASA-sponsored scientists, technical and engineering experts as role and career models.In 1990, the consortium imported a workshop from NASA Ames as the first offering of aprogram that became the “LiftOff” program, a nationally competitive week-long in-serviceprofessional development training for middle and high school teachers. A collaborative effort ofconsortium affiliates, NASA, and industry, the workshops are organized around an aerospace orspace science theme drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs.The program combines the strengths of the collaborators to enrich teaching and learning ofSTEM topics. During a recent evaluation, 95% of those responding rated the LiftOff SummerInstitute as “extremely effective.” A comprehensive evaluation of the annual programs andfollow-up with participants allows us to document program successes, how materials are beingused, and numbers reached through this train-the trainer workshop. In the past five years, 250teachers have attended LiftOff. On an average, these 250 teachers have utilized the materials andtraining with 25,000 students, and trained an additional 12,000 teachers. In the words of oneparticipant, “LiftOff Summer Institute was an everlasting experience. I can’t wait until schoolstarts! I am so excited about sharing everything that I experienced, not only with my students,but with fellow teachers and colleagues.”The paper will present the history of the LiftOff program, an analysis of how it has changed overthe past 24 years, a listing of program topics, a typical program agenda, program goals andoutcomes, metrics, participant feedback, program evaluation results, anecdotal data, and bestpractices for replicating this program.

Baguio, M., & Fowler, W. T., & Ramirez, S. (2014, June), LiftOff to Best Practices in K-12 Engineering Curriculum Design Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22801

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