Local STEM Educator Joins International Peers at Space Center Houston Educator Conference

Claire Meschkat, a Graham resident, joined more than 500 educators from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Japan and Hong Kong for hands-on learning experiences with rocket scientists, astronauts and renowned instructors at Space Center Houston’s Space Exploration Educators Conference, Feb. 1-3, 2018. This year she will be returning for the 25th year of the conference as a presenter.

Meschkat interned for Boeing Space Exploration during college as an aerospace engineer working on the space shuttle program. After graduating she moved to Olney to begin her career at Air Tractor, Inc. She now uses her experience and expertise as an engineer to equip educators with quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources.ThroughherSTEM curriculum company, Vivify (www.VivifySTEM.com), she hopes to impart confidence to teachers in STEM subjects and empower students who are our future leaders and problem solvers.

“SEEC brings together my passions of space exploration and providing quality education for children,” said Meschkat, who also teaches a STEM enrichment class during a local homeschool co-op. “The conference provides opportunities for me to network with likeminded educators and experts in science and engineering, while also giving me new tools and ideas to bring back to my classroom and curriculum writing,” Meschkat said.

The theme of this year’s conference is Small Steps, Expanding Frontiers where the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the 60th Anniversary of NASA will be a focus. The conference inspires teachers to build on these first steps expanding their frontiers and those of their students by utilizing the power of space exploration.

The nonprofit science and space exploration learning center offers teachers and students of all disciplines access to immersive learning experiences, said Daniel Newmyer, Space Center Houston vice president of education. “We’re not just teaching science to scientists. It’s accessible to all, and we have experts to help teachers and students connect the dots.”

Last year’s conference featured NASA’s Year of Education on Station and included a video teleconference between astronaut Joe Acaba on the International Space Station and retired astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, who was in Houston for the event. Astronaut Ricky Arnold dialed in from Star City in Moscow, where he was preparing for an upcoming mission on the ISS. All three are former or current educators.

Attendees earned up to 24 hours of continuing professional education credit, receive numerous cross-curriculum ideas and ready-to-implement classroom activities, and make connections with STEM leaders during valuable networking opportunities.

The educators went behind the scenes of the astronaut training facilities at NASA Johnson Space Center and learned about the technology and research that is furthering NASA’s current and future deep space missions.

Join the next Space Exploration Educators Conference Feb. 7-9, 2019. For more information about Space Center Houston educational programs, visit spacecenter.org/education-programs/.

The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space exploration learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws 1 million visitors annually, was called “The Big Draw” by USA Today and generates a $73 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is a Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. More than 250,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to experience our educational space museum with more than 400 things to see and do. For more information, go to www.spacecenter.org.

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