Jenny McCall, an 8th-grade integrated science teacher at Winburn Middle School (Fayette County), was selected as a 2021 NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassador (AAA). She is one of 30 teachers from 10 states selected to participate in the program, and the only teacher from Kentucky this year.
McCall will receive training in astrophysics and planetary science, while also spending a week at a NASA research facility. During the 2021-2022 school year, she will teach a physical science module created by the SETI Institute that connects her curriculum concepts to NASA-enabled research.
McCall will begin learning about the SOFIA observatory and the electromagnetic spectrum curriculum and will receive hands-on supplies to bring home. SOFIA is the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a reflecting telescope. In November, McCall will spend an immersion week in Palmdale, Calif., which will end with a flight on the SOFIA observatory with research scientists.
“Science is best taught through ‘doing’ actual science,” McCall said. “Immersion experiences like the NASA program allow students to participate in the analysis of data that is relevant to the world they live in.”