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ECISD teacher selected for LiftOff 2023 Summer Institute

Kimberly Neal, a 6th grade science teacher at Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School, has been selected for the prestigious LiftOff 2023 Summer Institute from June 25-30. Teachers invited to this program will conduct experiments, hear from NASA experts and astronauts, and network with other educators while sharing innovative lessons plans and ideas.  

“Wow,” is the first thing Mrs. Neal thought when she learned she had been chosen to attend. “I’m going.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I had a chance,” she added.

The competitive selection process required her to submit a lesson plan, a summary of how she will use the information once she returns to her school district, and why she believes it is still important for kids to talk about space.

“Flight is my thing. It’s my jam,” said Mrs. Neal. “My heroes are Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. I went to NASA the very first time when I was 7, with my grandparents, and I was hooked.”

LiftOff is a collaborative effort of the University of Texas Center for Space Research, Texas Space Grant Consortium members and affiliates, NASA, and industry. It’s 2023 theme is Planetary Defenders! The workshops provide teachers the rare – and for the most, unique – opportunity to spend a week working with professional scientists and engineers at the cutting edge of space exploration. From looking for potential asteroids or comets that might impact Earth, to protecting our home planet, NASA’s Planetary Defense research is critical to the assessment of future impact hazards, for developing spacecraft missions that will assist in protecting our home, and increasing our understanding of the world around us.

The weeklong institute features a series of workshops, hands-on activities, field investigations and presentations by NASA scientists and engineers. It’s a dream come true for someone who is a self-proclaimed science nerd.

“I had a 5th grade teacher that was crazy about science and she passed that love on to us,” said Mrs. Neal. “She made us memorize all of the bones in the skeleton, stand up in front of the class and name all the bones. She made us work and we loved it.”

Teachers selected for LiftOff 2023 will return with materials to use in their own classrooms, and also to train other educators. Learn more about LiftOff 2023 at this link: