Space Exploration Educator Crew

We look for teachers who are passionate about integrating STEM into their curricula and communities and teachers who want to grow and are willing to go the extra mile to make learning meaningful for their students.
-Kaci Heins; Space Center Houston Education Supervisor

Educators from around the country are collaborating to prepare students for 21st century science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers through Space Center Houston’s inaugural Space Exploration Educator Crew.

Space Center Houston launched the program in 2017 to help meet at a nationwide need to prepare students for STEM careers and an equal need for extraordinary teacher leaders to inspire students. The crew aims to empower teachers to build leadership competencies by creating innovative STEM programs for their students, schools and communities.

The group of 35 kindergarten through 12th-grade educators were awarded scholarships to attend Space Center Houston’s annual Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) in 2017.

At the conference, the educators were tasked with performing outreach to other educators in their school, district, state or region for one year. When the year ends, the educations will return to SEEC in 2018 to share the results of their education expedition.

Through the program, teachers have access to unique professional development opportunities including the ability to collaborate with their regional teams and collaborate virtually with national educators to enhance and expand outreach.

The program structure was inspired by the International Space Station “Year in Space” mission and modeled after the cross-cultural collaboration among space station crews.

The Space Exploration Educator Crew was made possible by a generous grant from Boeing.

Crew news and initiatives

2017 crew members

Name: Adlena Jacobs
Title: STEM – Engineering Design and Problem Solving
Location: Mesquite, TX
School: Mesquite ISD, Mesquite High School

Biography: I am Adlena Michelle Jacobs. I have been a Mesquite ISD educator for nine years. I graduated from North Mesquite High School in 2002. I went to Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) and received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and a Master’s degree in college administration. I taught SFA physics laboratory courses for introductory physics 101. That is when I enjoyed seeing the light bulb when students started to understand the purpose of their learning. I began teaching 8th grade math in 2008. While I was there, I started an afterschool program called INNOVATION CONNECTION. The afterschool program consisted of inquiry and project based learning. My two greatest accomplishments would be taking my students from the afterschool program I developed into network opportunities. These network of opportunities flowed into my classroom and my students started to enjoy coming to my class. A student that I had in the program has speech problems. His involvement with my afterschool program drew the notice of investors who wanted to invest in his innovative app for the district. My second accomplishment is the teaching assignment I have now, STEM (engineering design and problems solving course). I get to see light bulbs shine every day. I am so excited about my “Year in Space” because my room will be filled with so much light from the light bulbs that I would be able to encourage. I have heard how much students advance their curiosity with this program and I am so thrilled that my students and I will get to experience this fantastic program.


Name: Alexandra Hill
Title: STEM Teacher
Location: Clinton, Missouri
School: Clinton Middle School

Biography: Last year I attended Space Camp for educators and became enamored with space education. I also traveled to China and led professional development workshops focused on sharing strategies with Chinese teachers. These life changing experiences cultivated my knowledge of working in education and creating innovative opportunities for student growth. I am excited about the “Year in Space” because I can’t wait to learn more about space exploration to share with my students and other educators! I try to make learning exciting for my students and you can usually find me roaming the halls of my school in my lab coat or flight suit. Above all else, I want my students to enjoy the process of learning and leave our classroom more curious about the world in which they live. The topic of space is a vessel that can be applied to infuse STEM education to make content more relevant and engaging. I am honored to teach in my rural community but sometimes my students feel like their world is very small. I hope to use this experience to show them how big their world can become if they work hard and reach for the stars.