Endeavor Fellow Interns at NASA Goddard

 In pictures-of-practice

“Every interaction I had on my first day with NASA Goddard scientists had an undercurrent of EXCITEMENT. They were excited by their questions and projects. They were excited to share their ideas, their knowledge and their experimental results. They were excited to be doing science!” reports Kim Abegglen when discussing her internship at NASA Goddard.

Ms. Abegglen, like other NASA Endeavor Fellows, was awarded a fantastic opportunity to spend two weeks at a NASA Center, this one at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Her time at NASA was filled with so many interesting experiences that have blossomed into fantastic classroom activities, lasting content knowledge and valuable contacts. Integrating NASA content with concepts covered in the classroom has yielded some exciting classroom activities for her middle school students, but the experience itself was amazing.

“The moment I met my host, Dr. Gatebe, my learning experience began. Dr. Gatebe is a natural mentor and excellent teacher. As we entered the Earth Science Division, he got right to work explaining all that I was seeing—real-time data from satellites, information displayed in posters and interactive kiosks and model images from Landsat, ICESat and TERRA satellites.”

Ms. Abegglen was immediately impressed by the scientific practices all around her. She interacted with scientists and their high school, undergraduate and graduate student interns. She examined data instruments including a Cloud Absorption Radiometer (CAR) and sun photometers. She had opportunities to ask colleagues questions as they shared their projects. She was astonished at their desire to communicate their investigations, results, frustrations and ideas for further consideration. This is what science is all about. Immersed in the scientific process during her time at NASA, she collaborated and shared problem-solving strategies. She read and studied about climate and evidence of climate change using interactive technology tools. Ms. Abegglen spent her first week interacting with members of the NASA project team and being oriented to Dr.Gatebe’s project. Dr. Gatebe introduced her to many NASA specialists and encouraged her to take initiative and introduce herself to others.

“I was encouraged to tell them about what I do and why I am here at Goddard, and to ask them about what they do here at NASA. I was surprised that I spent much of my time at Goddard talking to and interviewing people. My understanding of scientific practices and Earth Science content knowledge increased significantly by these daily, on-going discussions.”

In addition to conferencing with NASA team members, the Endeavor intern also spent time in the Radiometric Calibration Facility, learning from Dr. Gatebe, Rajesh Poudyal and John Cooper what the Cloud Absorption Radiometer (CAR) is and how it is calibrated. She had never been in a clean room laboratory before and was reminded of the importance of precision in measuring, the importance of patience in collecting data and that science is innovative. She was able to attend two conferences. The first “town hall” style conference was for NASA Goddard interns (high school and college) and featured keynote speaker Charlie Bolden, NASA’s Chief Administrator. Equally inspiring, the keynote speakers of the second conference were the Atlantis STS-132 crew returning from their recent trip to the International Space Station.

After touring the Scientific Visualization Studio and the Visitor Center where the “Science on a Sphere” is housed she shared her impression, “These experiences have given me perspective of the role of education in furthering NASA’s mission of engaging students and building their science and math confidence. When educators and communities are successful at achieving this goal, our students do not ‘opt out’ of STEM in school; STEM careers remain an option for their future.”

Ms. Abegglen views her two weeks at NASA Goddard as “really the beginning of my NASA internship.” From her experiences working with NASA team members, she developed curriculum for grades 5-8 entitled, “Self-Assessing Scientific Practices in an Integrated Science Context: The Sun is the Primary Source for Energy in Earth’s Climate System.” Students explore light, radiation, the Earth’s Energy Budget, albedo and climate while self-identifying scientific practices. The main learning objective of her curriculum is to explore the Sun’s critical role in global climate and to practice thoughtful scientific skills. Ms. Abegglen continued to collaborate with Dr. Gatebe as she field tested her three-week unit.

“I am very grateful to be a part of the NASA Endeavor Fellowship and for the opportunity this program provided me to be mentored at NASA Goddard. I experienced the many practices of science all day, every day while I was there. My content knowledge and my ability to make that content knowledge accessible to students using NASA assets increased significantly. I was able to interact with NASA team members, an experience that would be so beneficial to all science educators. And, I believe I built relationships that can help to strengthen the partnership between education and professional scientists.”