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K–12 teachers nationwide selected to guide ASU's NASA-funded science education program

At the heart of the ASU-led Infiniscope program are the K–12 teachers who use the activities and lessons to teach their students about science and encourage their curiosity. Credit: ASU

February 12, 2021

Arizona State University’s Center for Education Through Exploration is continually transforming learning by developing and deploying digital learning experiences that are engaging, adaptive and transdisciplinary.

The center’s NASA-funded program, “Infiniscope,” provides next-generation exploratory science activities and lessons designed to empower educators to collaborate, create and customize learning activities. The activities are unique in that they use NASA data, NASA subject matter experts, and they include adaptive feedback features for individual learners.

At the heart of Infiniscope are the K–12 teachers who use these activities and lessons to teach their students about science and encourage their curiosity.

To launch their sixth year of the program, the Infiniscope team has announced the members of the Infiniscope 2021–22 Education Advisory Board. This board represents a select team of educators who focus on continually improving and enhancing the program as well as raising awareness of Infiniscope to teachers nationwide.

“Teacher input is a critical component of our success in working with K–12 audiences,” said Ariel Anbar, principal investigator of Infiniscope and President’s Professor with the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “Having a diverse group of educators working alongside our team ensures that our learning experiences are both engaging for students and educationally relevant.”

Infiniscope board members represent a variety of states across the U.S. The majority are educators in middle school and high school and includes educators from libraries, after-school programs and science centers. Almost all members have more than 10 years of teaching experience. 

The new members of the Infiniscope Advisory Board are Shaundra Davis, John Dupuis, Christine Hirst, Toni Holden-McGee, Tammy Hudson, Kelly Knight, Carla Neely, Melissa Olson, Laura Orr, DianaLyn Perkins, Jillian Reeves, Shannon Shurko, Meg Stewart and Denise Wright.

“The values of being an effective Infiniscope board member mean more than maintaining an unwavering interest in the goals of the institution,” said new board member Toni Holden-McGee, who is the digital learning coordinator at the Oak Park Public Library in Oak Park, Illinois. “It also means working collectively as a board in providing high-quality teaching tools and skills to our learners. We learn from one another and I believe through sharing our knowledge we can create an insatiable learner!”

Returning members include Melissa Cable Sleeper, Helen Coyle, Maki Fullerton, Christine Girtain, Dana Kosztur, April Lanotte, Noelle Luccioni, Katrina Madok, Debbie Morgan, Seyi Okuneye, Alison Oswald-Keene, Diane Ripollone, Jose Rivas and Jeanine Gelhaus.

“My journey with Infiniscope has been an amazing learning experience. The VFTs (virtual field trips) and corresponding adaptive feedbacks help me sequence and scaffold my lessons to ensure rich engagement and active participation of complex Earth science concepts,” said Okuneye of the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills, New York. “My goals for this year on the advisory board are to continue to improve the platform to allow students to discover the world through curiosity and exploration.”

The current board will serve through December 2021 and will be working on several new projects. These include developing content for a three-course model in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District East, exploring different connection and engagement strategies for the community, and creating teacher-produced and student-produced virtual field trips as well as project-based learning modules that teach how to create VFTs.

“My students have been able to interpret scientific principles in a unique kinesthetic manner through the power of Infiniscope,” said board member and environmental science teacher John Dupuis of St. Thomas More Catholic High School. “This year my greatest ambition is to learn how to use the soon-to-be-released platform for the creation of virtual field trips, called Field Trip Creator. I have big hopes of creating a VFT which would explore the causes of Louisiana's coastal erosion and land loss and the methods and projects being undertaken for the restoration of Louisiana's coast.”

In addition, the board will participate in workshops and conferences, social media engagements and community engagements to share Infiniscope and establish connections within the community.

“When schools were shut down in March of 2020 due to the raging coronavirus, I searched for engaging digital activities and resources for my students to engage with science topics and still learn concepts. Infiniscope resources were just the thing,” said new board member Meg Stewart, an earth science teacher at the West Bronx Academy for the Future. “The virtual field trips allow me to send my students to space or investigate outcrops and field research on the ground around Earth. My students love the activities and always want more. As a teacher, I trust that Infiniscope activities are high-quality and built around accurate scientific principles.”

How to become involved in Infiniscope

Educators who are interested in serving on the board next year first need to join the Infiniscope teaching network. Invitations to apply will be sent to teaching network members this fall with selections occurring in late 2021 for the 2022–23 academic year.    

The board is selected through a competitive process. Candidates are required to be educators and members of the Infiniscope teaching network. They also need to be dedicated to improving the quality of education products and willing to inspire their community to participate in the educational opportunities.

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