Teacher uses astronaut training to ignite interest in math - KCTV5

Teacher uses astronaut training to ignite interest in math, science

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Park Hill South High School math teacher Jennifer Engelhardt, center, immersed herself in non-stop, hands-on astronaut training at NASA with the goal that her experience will have students more excited about math and science. Park Hill South High School math teacher Jennifer Engelhardt, center, immersed herself in non-stop, hands-on astronaut training at NASA with the goal that her experience will have students more excited about math and science.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The hottest topic for education now is STEM - short for science, technology, engineering and math.

The reason is because those jobs are projected to more than double in the next decade.

Park Hill South High School math teacher Jennifer Engelhardt is hoping to spark a teen's interest in those fields with lessons from outer space.

She immersed herself in non-stop, hands-on astronaut training at NASA with the goal that her experience will have students more excited about math and science.

"When they see us geek out on learning, even though they sometimes don't want to, they start geeking out on the same content as well," she said.

Englehardt's own astronaut space suit is her keepsake from her week-long training at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.

It was a scholarship program through Honeywell. She was just one of 200 teachers selected for the program from all over the world.

It is designed to get more students interested in STEM fields.

"I think that a lot of times, math and science is not seen as cool," Englehardt said.

Student interest in those fields is lacking.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school seniors go for STEM-related careers - even with demand for those jobs on the rise.

"They are going to learn a lot of NASA whether they like to or not. That will be something that I definitely try to spark an interest in this year," she said.

While she can't simulate moonwalks or rocket launches, she can incorporate a key tool NASA - teamwork.

"It is all about the team. It is all about the greater good, the more minds working together and high school math is often seen as very individualized," she said. "So I really want to work on bringing more ideas, more focus on the idea of a team into my classroom."

Engelhardt also plans on professional development opportunities with other math and science teachers in the district so that they can also incorporate lessons from NASA in their classrooms.

If you're a teacher and interested in the program, click here.

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