Science teacher Christine Meek was awestruck by stars at age 9. She remembers staring up at them when she lay with her head outside the tent during a family camping trip. Her sense of wonder hasn’t diminished.
“The more I learn about space, the more I can understand the connection to what’s going on down here,” she said.
Meek will learn much more about the cosmos in the coming year. She’s among 20 educators nationwide chosen as 2013 Teacher Liaisons by the Space Foundation. The Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation is a global, nonprofit that advocates for support of the space industry.
Meek teaches applied science at Platte River Academy’s Classical Academy for Homeschoolers, a publicly-funded charter school that offers twice-weekly classes to homeschooled students. She also owns and operates C THE World Academy, which offers students science camps and classes during school breaks. As a Teacher Liaison, Meek will attend the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs this spring. She’ll also be a classroom advocate for space-themed education, using Space Foundation-provided training and resources.
Weaving space education into the classroom is not a new idea for Meek. Her middle school students this year created space habitats, model villages that reflect their vision of life on another planet. Constructing the villages made students consider the physical and psychological challenges of such a life through a hands-on exercise about both space and science.
“Even though space is something we want to promote and be excited about, space gets you excited about science in general,” Meek said.
Meek was urged to apply to the Space Foundation by her husband Edward, an engineer at Lockheed Martin. His passion for space has inspired her.
With federal funding for space programs in decline, Meek fears knowledge will be lost to members of the now-aging generation that worked in the industry during its heyday.
As a Space Foundation Teachers Liaison, part of her job is “to spread the word,” she said.
“We are in a regression right now,” Meek said. “I know it will come back.”
Her goal is to open her students’ minds to the wider world, space included.
“I’m not a teacher, I’m an awakener, and I live by that,” she said. “They may grow up to be the scientists that help us move to another planet, or clean up and fix this (climate) disaster that may be happening.”
As part of her Teachers Liaison assignment, Meek will attend the Space Foundation's 29th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs this April.