Interview with NASA Educator - History Research Journal

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Interview with NASA Educator

If your class can't got to space camp, space camp can come to you. NASA offer virtual fieldtrips that bring NASA experts to your classroom. NASA educator Dave Mazza answered a few questions about his work in this week's TeachHUB Ed Celeb Interview.

What different kinds of field trips and educational experiences does NASA Glenn offer?

NASA Glenn Digital Learning Network offers 45 to 60 minute programs about Humans in Space, Ratios and Proportions, Simple Machines, Humans to Mars, Asteroids, Our Planet Earth, Rocket Science, The Space Shuttle, The Solar System and Beyond, The Moon, Apollo Revisited, and Galileo, The Origins of Science. Descriptions of each of these can be obtained at our website along with the other NASA Center DLN offerings.
How are “virtual” field trips through the Digital Learning Network different than typical field trips?
The NASA field trips with the Digital Learning Network are highly interactive with the students and teachers. They all relate what they are learning in the classroom to how they apply to real world situations. They stress the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. We have NASA Specialists and NASA Engineers present to the students and allow the students to ask any question about NASA, Space, or anything they have always wanted to know.

Why do you think this program is value to educators and students?

They show Real World applications of the material they are learning in the classroom. Students will often ask why do we need to learn this stuff and we show them how and why they are learning. We also bring multiple forms of learning from text, video, and voice to try and hit everyone's learning capability. Also, we are not here to replace the teacher but to help explain concepts they are teaching in the classroom and also give them the chance to let us know how else we can help them with their classroom teachings. For example, the Simple Machines and Ratios event were created from a request from teachers.

What first got you interested in the study of space and space exploration?
I became interested in space when NASA sent the first Man to the Moon in 1969. As I watched Neil Armstrong step foot on the Moon, I then knew space travel was my direction. I have always been an explorer, as I used to hike woods and parks just to see what I could find. Travel into the Solar System and Beyond would be the ultimate travel. Now, if we can do it faster and better, we hope that will inspire students who will be the next generation of Astronauts, Engineers, and Scientists.

Can you describe the work you’ve done for NASA, aside from being a NASA educator?

My NASA career started at the Glenn Research Center in 1982. The engineers and scientists have to create reports to present their work and finding to their peers across the NASA Center's and different Societies they belong to. I helped them prepare graphics and manuscripts for submissions to be published. I played a major role in setting up computer networks and programs to help us in these projects. During this time, I would train co-workers on how to use the software and hardware newly installed in the department. I moved form the publishing department to the video and multimedia area and created many training applications and online materials for Astronauts and Corporate and regional pilots on the NASA research. During this time I have met and became friends with some really neat people.

How did you become a NASA educator?

I guess education has always been a part of my life and I really enjoy helping others. I pick up on different things quickly and would help others who had questions. I was able to get into distance learning and brought my knowledge of television production to the videoconferencing world to help take student and teacher to places that NASA has they would normally never get to see. Places like the International Space Station, Wind Tunnels, Reduced Gravity Aircraft and Astronaut training Facilities.

What topics are the most recommended by teachers and educators?

All of our topics are highly recommended by teachers, the most popular are Humans in Space, Rocket Science and The Solar System and Beyond.

The Digital Learning Network gives you a unique opportunity to interact with students. What has been your most memorable moment from the digital classroom?

I would have to say the most memorable moments have to be the reaction of the students and teachers K-12 when they see how water reacts in Space or when the event ends and you hear them saying how they now understand what they were learning.

What question is the most asked by kids?
The most asked question.... well you asked, How do you go to the bathroom in space?

How can teachers organize this experience for their students?

To best organize these experiences, teachers can look at what they are teaching and review the website and see how the NASA Programs could fit their curriculum. They could also request a DLN overview during their in service days and see how the DLN works from registration to the Day of the event.

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