VASTS Teacher Institute

NOTE: There are no currently planned VASTS Teacher Institutes. If a Teacher Institute will become available, it will be listed on this page.


About the Teacher Institute

The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program provides Virginia secondary science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) educators the opportunity to participate in a seven-day Teacher Institute at NASA Langley Research Center and Virginia Space Grant Consortium, in Hampton, Virginia. With a Mars Exploration theme, educators will be engaged and participate in NASA-developed activities, learn how to incorporate NASA materials and multimedia resources into their lessons, and infuse their teaching with the latest podcasting and video technology.  
This program is a partnership between Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) and NASA Langley Research Center.


Program Description

At the VASTS Teacher Institute, the engineering design process and data-driven decision making will be emphasized. Teachers will learn how to find NASA mission data and how to develop lessons incorporating the data. Teacher participants will learn from a planetary scientist that analyzes and uses data obtained from Mars rovers and orbiters to assist with mission design. In addition, an aerospace engineer that designed the aerobraking system for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will share information and experiences regarding the complexity and intensity of these missions in terms to which educators and students can relate.

Teachers will also be introduced to NASA developed, inquiry-based learning activities that can be modified to be incorporated into the curriculum taught. With a focus on the engineering design process, which is similar to the scientific problem solving process, teachers will actively participate in the activities that they can take back to their students. By having the opportunity to engage in the activities, teachers will understand the types of questions the students will have while learning from the activities. Teachers will also be able to determine the actual amount of time the activity will take and troubleshoot before they “try out” the lesson on their first classes of students. Allowing teachers to practice and feel confident about an activity or lesson increases the likelihood it will be used in the classroom thereby reaching more students. At the conclusion of each activity, a discussion session with teachers sharing how they could envision using the lesson with their students or how they would modify the activity will occur. A mini-course on robotics where teachers construct a Mars surface exploration rover will also demonstrate the engineering design process.

During the last two days of the workshop, teachers will be introduced to NASA online multimedia resources including but not limited to activities, websites, data, video clips, images, and interactive games and simulations. Teachers will learn to use My NASA website to amass and store resources they will use in their classroom. In addition, participants will use be introduced to current free-ware programs that help them to create podcasts and videos in addition to Web 2.0 tools that can be incorporated into their teaching to create exciting and interesting lessons. Institute participants will use data and NASA resources into their videos. The teachers will share the videos with other participants on the final day of the Institute, and these videos will be posted on the Institute website to be accessed in the future. 


Who Can Apply?

Virginia high school science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educators are selected to participate through a competitive application process. In order to participate, educators must be: 
  • Virginia and U.S. citizens
  • A currently-employed secondary (grades 9-12) science, technology, engineering, or math educator
  • Have a desire to learn about and incorporate NASA resources into their teaching and lessons
  • Have access to email and the Internet


How to Apply?



What Will Teachers Do?

Teachers will be introduced to the latest Mars science, exploration, and technology developments by NASA scientists and engineers. The teachers will participate in fun and engaging NASA-developed, scenario-based lessons and activities that teach STEM concepts that can be adapted for their classroom use. In addition, participants will use easily accessible free-ware technology and programs to create podcasts and videos incorporating NASA multimedia resources that will impress their students and colleagues! 


What is the Cost?

There is no cost for participants and a stipend will be given to those successfully completing the training!   Lodging at the Marriott – Newport News City Center and some meals are provided to ALL participants.   Mileage will be reimbursed for those traveling farther than 50 miles from the VSGC offices in Hampton.   


What Do I Need to Bring?

Teachers need to bring a laptop and may want to bring a camera because there will be great photo opportunities!