Blogs  |  11.17.2022

Learning Doesn’t Stop with Students: It’s for Teachers Too

Most educators are aware of the importance of hands-on learning for their students, but what about the educators themselves?

This past summer, Challenger Learning Center of Las Cruces had the opportunity to collaborate with Teachers in Space to provide educators in the Las Cruces, New Mexico, area with real space science experiences that they could then take back to their classrooms.

The Center, in collaboration with the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, hosted one of three Flight Experiments Professional Development Workshops for Teachers that took place across the country. Las Cruces public school educators who attended engaged in all phases of building CubeSats—from assembling and programming an Arduino microcontroller and sensors, then using it to assemble a CubeSat frame; to launching, communicating with, and recovering a balloon mission; as well as collecting, presenting, and disseminating data collected from the CubeSat missions.

One participating teacher shared, “If we didn’t have the opportunity to build the CubeSats ourselves—including welding and programming—we wouldn’t really know how to teach this to our students.”

After the workshop, some teachers immediately implemented what they learned in their own classrooms. And an unexpected partnership between two of the teachers brought together high school and elementary school students to collaborate on a data project that continues to develop. The students hope to launch their own CubeSats in the Spring.

“Seeing the high school students working together with the elementary-aged students was an unexpected benefit,” said Stephanie Hofacket, Associate Director of Teaching and Learning, K-12 Science, at Las Cruces Public Schools and Challenger Learning Center of Las Cruces. She explained, “When teachers do the learning, they can then help students more because they experienced it themselves. And when teachers can do something new, it provides more creative opportunities for their students.”

Challenger Learning Centers continue to pave the way for STEM education—for students and educators alike! Find a Challenger Learning Center near you.