Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Electronic Journal of Science Education 19:2 (2015), pp. 1-19.


Copyright © 2015 Electronic Journal of Science Education (Southwestern University/Texas Christian University).


This article reports on a collaborative enterprise between Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) NASA Education Projects and OSU’s College of Education preservice elementary teachers (PSTs) to engage approximately 400 middle school students for a 20-minute live downlink with Commander Kevin Ford from the International Space Station (ISS). NASA supports this opportunity through a competitive proposal process (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2014). The project’s theme, Pioneers in Space: STEM Careers on the Space Frontier, engaged both PSTs and middle school students in discussing the benefits of space research, while drawing on themes relevant to students’ regional history. PSTs prepared Pioneers in Space instructional units and led classroom activities linking 6th grade state science standards. The desired outcome was to promote a greater understanding of how space exploration benefits society and contributes to STEM innovations. This paper reports on how curriculum design and leadership experiences in space education and outreach impacted the PST participants.