The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) program is designed to measurably enhance student STEM achievement and engagement in selected school districts via professional development for high school science teachers. AAA participant professional development consists of training in astrophysics and planetary science content as well as a week-long STEM immersion experience at NASA’s science research aircraft facility in Palmdale, California, including participation in research flights on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Post-flight, AAA program staff then help participant teachers implement a NASA science-oriented electromagnetic spectrum and infrared astronomy curriculum module, developed by the SETI Institute, in their classrooms.
When the AAA program was launched in 2011, participants were selected via a national call for applications from 2-member teams of educators. In 2015, the selection process was amended. The AAA program works directly with school districts with needs that can be addressed by the AAA program. Participants are selected through a collaborative process that includes the school districts and the AAA team.
In the first iteration (2016-18) of the new AAA program, our timely assessment of district needs and formation of partnerships necessitated that we work with school districts local to NASA Ames (N. California) and Armstrong (S. California).
For the next iteration (2018-19) of the AAA program, we will be expanding outside California by eliciting interest from school districts represented by teachers and administrators attending the National Science Teachers Association annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia, in March 2018, and by working with the Challenger Center to connect with their nationwide network of school district partners.
Learn more about the Airborne Astronomy Ambassador program