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NASA selects Framingham State for program providing educators with STEM professional development

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  June 19, 2012 04:55 PM

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Framingham State University has been selected by NASA's Aerospace Education Services Project, or AESP, to participate as a member in a newly-created alliance designed to provide professional development for educators.

Under the AESP program, which aims to improve education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM disciplines, Framingham State will collaborate with NASA's education wing to design and deliver ongoing professional development activities that can improve teaching and learning for K-12 teachers, as well as Framingham State students working towards educating in the future.

Each member works with a NASA education specialist to build a strategic plan to bring resources to educators in their region. Activities are customized to match the professional development needs for teachers in any local area.

NASA will provide access to their resources and assets to the members.

Mary Liscombe, director of Framingham State's McAuliffe Center, said that Framingham State has long specialized in professional development and that the university is committed to helping teachers design factual and interesting experiments and curriculum.

"We don’t just want to bring a box of stuff and dump it in a classroom," Liscombe said. "We want materials to help support the education of our students here in Massachusetts, so they can go out in the world and be better educated in STEM subjects."

Liscombe said the center also collaborates with various professors depending on the topics of their choosing.

She said the university provides one-day, two-day, and even week-long workshops to help educators with their course material, adding that workshop teachers include Framingham State faculty and staff, experts from particular fields, NASA officials, or even online resources.

"My staff is receiving NASA professional development right now, learning about the robot landing on Mars, and learning more about Mars every day," Liscombe said. "We want to be able to teach the teachers about this."

AESP members also have opportunities to work with NASA’s education and public outreach groups to participate in various NASA events, such as piloting training of new classroom resources, or celebrations of NASA mission milestones like the launch of a new mission or one reaching its destination.

Additionally, members have a forum to discuss issues in STEM teacher professional development across their organizations.

Membership in the alliance is by invitation to organizations that provide professional development to STEM educators and who have had previous successful collaborations with NASA Education.

The alliance currently has 75 members in 38 states and Puerto Rico.

The news comes nine months after NASA named Framingham State as one of approximately 60 NASA Educator Resource Centers in the country, providing the school with access to NASA’s vast library of educational resources.

Framingham State is known for educating Christa McAuliffe, the teacher-turned-astronaut who studied there. The university now houses the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Education and Teaching Excellence.

For more information on the NASA-AESP PD Alliance visit

For more information about NASA Education, go to

AESP is a NASA Education project managed by Penn State University's College of Education.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at

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