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The Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) is NASA's unique stratospheric infrared observatory. Science on board the KAO involves many disciplines and technologies. NASA Astrophysics Division supports a pre-college teacher program to provide Flight Opportunities for Science Teacher EnRichment (FOSTER). To date, forty-five teachers are participating, and the program is designed to nation-wide to serve fifty teachers per year on board the KAO. FOSTER is a pilot program for K-12 educational outreach for NASA's future Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) which will directly involve more than one-hundred teachers each year in airborne astronomical research missions.
FOSTER aims to enrich precollege teachers' experiences and understanding of science, mathematics and technology. Teachers meet at NASA Ames Research Center for summer workshops on astronomy and contemporary astrophysics, and to prepare for flights. Further, teachers receive Internet training and support to create a FOSTER teacher network across the country, and to sustain communication with the airborne astronomy community.
Each research flight of the KAO is a microcosm of the scientific method. Flying teachers obtain first-hand, real-time experiences of the scientific process: its excitement, hardships, challenges, discoveries, teamwork, and educational value. The FOSTER experience gives teachers pride and a sense of special achievement. They bring the excitement and adventure of doing first-class science to their students and communities.
Flight Opportunities for Science Teacher EnRichment is funded by a NASA's Astrophysics Division grant, NAGW 3291, and supported by the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center.
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