Saugus High School science teacher Harbir Kaur has been chosen by NASA and the SETI Institute as an Airborne Astronomy Ambassador and will fly on the Strategic Observatory for Infrared Astronomy research flight.
Kaur is one of 28 high school science teachers selected from around the country to participate as an AAA on NASA’s SOFIA. She makes the 14th Hart District teacher chosen for the program, by far the most out of any district in the country.
“I believe that learning never stops and I am very excited about the SOFIA experience,” Kaur said. “I believe it will be a great opportunity to explore, learn, and gain knowledge and it will allow me to provide my students with enriched lessons and activities.”
The AAA program is a professional development program for high school science teachers designed to improve science teaching and increase student learning and STEM engagement. Training includes a week-long immersion experience at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Hangar 703 in Palmdale, with participation in research flights on NASA’s SOFIA. The program culminates in classroom delivery of a SOFIA science-oriented curriculum module.
AAA teachers receive training in astrophysics and planetary science content and pedagogy. After their flights, they teach a two-week physical science curriculum module created by the SETI Institute that focuses on the electromagnetic spectrum using SOFIA science examples as illustrations. WestEd education consultants assess the impact of the specialized curriculum module on student STEM learning and engagement.
“We are delighted that this new AAA cohort expands the program’s geographical reach and includes teachers from 13 states,” said Dr. Dana Backman, AAA program lead. “These teachers will use their professional development and SOFIA experiences to convey real-world content to their students that illuminates the value of scientific research and the wide variety of STEM career paths available to them.”
SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches. It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR.
NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the SOFIA program, science, and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft is maintained and operated from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center’s airborne science facility in Palmdale.
About the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors Program
The SETI Institute’s NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program is one of 23 programs competitively selected by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. These cooperative agreements more effectively engage learners of all ages with NASA science. Selections were made by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. AAA is funded under NASA SMD NNX16AC51A.
About the SETI Institute
Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.