Allen Park Elementary math and science teacher Courtney Black is a presenting teacher at SPACE, NASA’s Space Port Conference for Educators. Later this week she will be showing other teachers how to incorporate rocketry into their lesson plans.

“We will be teaching educators how to build pressurized rockets out of 2-liter bottles, mini-rockets out of matchsticks and tin foil and rockets made out of straws and paper,” Black says. “Rocketry can cover a multitude of math and science topics from calculating pressure to estimate distance, force, motion, energy and gravity.”

Black is the driving force behind the ARISS program at Allen Park Elementary. She recently selected 16 students from around the District to speak to a Space Station Astronaut in October. Her students started focusing in on the opportunity in January and will pick up again when school resumes in August.

Allen Park is one of only 14 schools in the country to participate in this round of ARISS and the first ever from Lee County. The students will use a ham radio to speak to an astronaut while they fly overhead and use a telescope on the ground to observe the Space Station.

SPACE is the first certified educator conference at Kennedy Space Center. Teachers from around the country will hear from Astronauts, NASA experts in science and engineering and fellow educators. They will leave the three day conference with ready-to-go lesson plans and creative ideas to infuse their classrooms with STEAM and multi-faceted, space-related curriculum content.

“The very best thing is that we share ideas and build each other up.” Black says of the conference. “This is what education should be at its very best: the sharing of ideas and best practices to ensure student engagement and success.”

The conference is July 11-13 at the Kennedy Space Center. It is hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation.