A.P. Solis Middle School robotics teacher Joseph Ramos was selected to participate in the prestigious LiftOff Summer Institute to be held at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston this summer. This nationally competitive program, sponsored by NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium, selects teachers from across the country who want to increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math through space education.

Ramos said he was ecstatic when he heard he was chosen to be part of the program. He will have the opportunity to conduct experiments, tour facilities, and network with other educators while sharing innovative lesson plans and ideas. 

 “I feel extremely honored to have been invited to this prestigious event that only invites a handful of teachers annually,” Ramos said. “At first I thought all the technology teachers in the district had been invited to attend, but when I found out I was the only one, I felt extremely blessed to have been given this rare opportunity.”

LiftOff 2019’s theme is The Legacy of Apollo. According to a NASA press release, the workshops will provide teachers the rare – and for most, unique – opportunity to spend a week working with professional scientists and engineers at the cutting edge of space exploration. Since its founding in 1958, NASA has reached that goal numerous times over. From walking on the moon to landing on Mars, NASA has brought the wonders of space to people on Earth for decades. Thousands of people have been working around the world – and off it – for decades, trying to answer some basic questions.  What’s out there?  How do we get there?  What will we find?  What can we learn there, or learn just by trying to get there, that will make life better here on Earth?

“Almost 50 years ago, men from Earth left our home planet and journeyed to the moon,” the NASA release stated. “It all started in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending astronauts to the moon before the end of the decade. Coming just three weeks after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in Space, Kennedy’s bold challenge set the nation on a journey unlike any before in human history.”

Ramos said he is looking forward to expanding his knowledge in the STEM field through space exploration. “I have never visited NASA and I’m excited to experience every single thing it has to offer. I plan to learn as much as possible about all STEM related subjects but more than that, I’m looking forward to all the goodies (curriculum, worksheets, lesson plans, etc.) that I can bring back with me to share with my colleagues.”

Ramos said Donna ISD students will ultimately be the ones who will benefit. “I believe that by collaborating with teachers from all over the country, I will be able to bring home an abundance of experience and resources that I can use in my classes next year to help any student who is passionate about STEM to achieve their goal.”

Ramos said this experience would not be possible if it were not for the district’s support. “I want to thank my principal Mrs. Rodriguez for always standing behind her educators and supporting us to be better and do what’s best for our students. I’d also like to thank Superintendent Dr. Azaiez for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be an educator in our rapidly rising district.”

The program will be held June 23 – June 28 at the NASA Johnson Space Center.