Seven high school math and science teachers from local schools have completed summer employment program at JPL designed to provide them with working knowledge of space technology and its applications.
The program, designed by the professional development and employee relations section at JPL, was provided as community service to improve the interchange of information between the Lab and local school districts, and to provide teachers with direct experience in science and math that might be of benefit in the classroom.
Participants in the program included teachers in the Pasadena, La Canada, Glendale, Los Angeles and South Pasadena school districts.
"The program was tremendous success," said Dr. George Taylor, manager of the professional development and employee relations section and administrator of the summer program. He said the teachers were exposed to relevant uses of and science in high technology, "and will return to their schools better prepared to instruct, counsel and motivate secondary school students."
South Pasadena High School teacher Larry Johnson gained hands-on computer experience related to spacecraft activities in the JPL systems division. "All math use can now be related to some engineering experience had at JPL," he said. "I have developed lesson plans on spacecraft navigation and related math and science principles."
James J. Hsu, teacher in the Pasadena school district, termed the summer program "a thrilling experience." Hsu studied new technology and applications with specific use of the computer to stimulate molecular chemical reactions of interstellar matter within JPL's earth and space sciences division. Hsu said he planned to "invite engineers from JPL to speak to my classes, present new teaching material developed at JPL, and be better counselor to my students in career planning."
Los Angeles School District teacher Barbara Johnson, who worked in the telecommunications division and worked in editing and modifying telecommunications science program, said that the impact of her experience on her students "will be intensive and direct. The typical college class would have never provided me such reservoir of knowledge."
Thomas Vessella, Glendale school district teacher, computer-aided design in mechanical drafting at JPL, and said the experience helped him "learn what an engineer really does and the problem-solving methods used to resolve issues."
Patricia Compeau of La Canada High School called the trial program "the correct approach to retrain math/science teachers. It has increased my awareness as to where need to strengthen my science background."
JPL will assess the program accomplishments and later determine if the program will continued next year.
JPL is operated by the California Institute of Technology for NASA.
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