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Robinson teaching universal concepts at Space Foundation

Thu, Jan 31, 2013

One on One

School students think Amy Robinson is out of this world.

Robinson is a space education specialist at the Space Foundation — and is the person responsible for developing about 12 sets of curricula that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at the foundation.

Most recently, she’s developed standards-based curriculum for the Wonders of the Universe program that uses the foundation’s Science on a Sphere to teach STEM programs, social studies, history and government to local school students. Science on a Sphere brings the planets to life in the classroom.

Robinson developed the courses, which are taught by master-level, accredited instructors — and include by

The courses Robinson developed are taught by master-level, accredited Space Foundation instructors — including Robinson — and include both SOS lecture/demonstrations and hands-on learning activities. The 12 courses Robinson developed during the past year were evaluated to ensure that they meet specific grade- and subject-matter standards (more information can be found at www.spacefoundation.org/education/classes-students-all-ages/wonders-universe).

Robinson earned her bachelor’s degree in communications with elementary education licensure from the University of Colorado. She is currently obtaining her master’s degree in education/education leadership from Adams State University, Alamosa, Colo.

Why did you get involved in your field?

I have always gravitated towards positions where I could teach — from tour director to science center education to classroom teacher, I have always loved learning and enjoy sharing that knowledge with others. I first became involved with the Space Foundation as a teacher liaison while still in the classroom, so it was an exciting opportunity to be able to join such an outstanding organization. Teacher liaisons are teachers who effectively — and enthusiastically — use space in the classroom.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

It is rewarding to see the curriculum that we’ve developed and many of the presentations that I have designed in action. The reaction of school groups and members of the community, when they see what we have developed at the Space Foundation, is truly gratifying. I know I’ve have made an impact when people have been entertained while learning something completely foreign to them without even realizing they were learning it. It’s always amazing to me, after even just a short presentation, how much detail is retained by people who are participating in our programs.

Who do you credit as a mentor in your current position?

I started my career in the science center/information education field at The Imaginarium in Anchorage, Alaska. The program manager, Lincoln Garrick, was my supervisor at the time. He was extremely supportive of me during my tenure. He encouraged me to try new experiments and helped me refine them until we achieved the results we were seeking. It was that encouragement, that willingness to try new and innovative ways of educating while entertaining an audience that helped shape many of my educational philosophies. His encouragement and direction continues to guide the methods I use with children, even today. Lincoln frequently reminded me that there is no such thing as failure if something was learned in the process. Much of my success with innovative teaching techniques and the use of technology is a direct result of his mentoring.

What are some of the challenges you have to overcome?

Translating complex data from agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration into something that can be understood by individuals of different ages and education levels can be difficult. Science on a Sphere is a new and complex system and there are still programs we plan to create that cannot yet be done because the data sets we need to create the programs don’t yet exist. I’m currently learning the computer programming used by Science on a Sphere so that I can create data sets unique to the Space Foundation.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?

I think it’s important for you — and this applies to every individual — to find your natural gifts in life, pursue those gifts and do the work that truly inspires you. If you do what you love you will have many opportunities to make a difference in this world.

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