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UTSA professors recognized for improving STEM education in San Antonio

UTSA professors recognized for improving STEM education in San Antonio

UTSA Professors, Carmen Fies and Chris Packham, were presented an Eddy Award by San Antonio’s School of Science and Technology.

(May 30, 2019) -- Professors Carmen Fies and Chris Packham at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have been honored for their efforts to enhance STEM education in San Antonio schools by creating and nurturing educational partnerships in the community.

Fies, an associate professor in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD), and Packham, an associate professor in the UTSA College of Sciences, received an Eddy award from the School of Science and Technology (SST) this month. The 2019 SST Education Awards, or Eddy awards, honor parents and community members who work with students and educators to help them achieve their goals and succeed.

"SST works to prepare our students to be successful in STEM fields of study and for the high demand, highly valued career opportunities that will follow. Nothing is more important in that effort than professional development for teachers. Professors Fies and Packham have provided teachers throughout San Antonio with amazing experiential learning in physics and astronomy. Their work makes science exciting and engaging in classrooms across our city,” said Nancy Thompson, Director of Community Outreach and Communications at School of Science and Technology.

As members of the faculty of UTSA, a top research and urban serving university, Fies and Packham have built and enhanced relationships at schools across San Antonio to encourage current and future educators to get excited about modern astronomy, a science they say serves as a gateway to STEM learning.

Nearly two years ago, Fies, Packham and faculty members at UTSA, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and the McDonald Observatory began to collaborate on astronomy education with the San Antonio Teacher Training Astronomy Academy (SATTAA). SATTAA provides pre- and in-service teachers with content and pedagogical knowledge, technology tools, and practical resources facilitating STEM education in their classrooms as a way of inspiring students to remain in STEM education.

“We believe that the inspirational nature of astronomy and the commonly held interest by young future scientists can be used to help attract and maintain interest in STEM, for the good of all scientific and high-technology disciplines, not just astronomy,” explained Packham.

“SATTAA is one of the most exciting endeavors I am part of. The program seeks to not only build astronomy content expertise in educators, but to also reignite the passion for looking at the night sky as our window to the universe,” said Fies.

During the SATTAA, participants visit local and regional educational and STEM facilities such as the Witte Museum, McDonald Observatory and Scobee Planetarium. They explore topics such as the solar system, stars, galaxies, dark matter, exo-planets, optics and the future of astronomy. The program is funded by NASA and National Science Foundation grants awarded to Fies and Packham, respectively.

This year, SATTAA will be held from June 10 to 21.

Kara Soria

Learn more about Carmen Fies.

Learn more about Chris Packham.

Learn more about SATTAA.

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