Teachers gain new knowledge in UTSA polar and planetary science workshops

science workshops

Elementary and high school teachers at UTSA science workshops

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(July 2, 2010) San Antonio elementary and high school teachers from as far away as California have wrapped up a week of professional development workshops in polar and planetary science at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

The unique professional development opportunity was jointly funded by UTSA and NASA and allowed teachers to expand their knowledge of global changes, Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, polar oceans, glaciers, ice sheets, snow covers, water cycles and other planets. Throughout the week, the teachers were also introduced to scientific technologies commonly used in polar and planetary studies, including NASA tools, electromagnetic imaging instruments, GPS and geographic information systems.

"Professional development programs in the sciences are extremely important," said Stephen Ackley, research associate professor in UTSA's Department of Geological Sciences. "When we provide teachers the tools they need to stay current in science, their lessons are more interesting and they are better able to engage and retain the attention of their students. We thank NASA for helping us support these teachers in their continued education."

According to the National Science Teachers Association, nearly two million science teachers are employed in the United States, which faces a critical shortage of teachers given that approximately 30% of science teachers quit the profession in their first three years of service. The majority of science educators teach Biology and Chemistry, with just an estimated 15,611 teachers in Earth Science.