Science Teachers Blast Off
By Amanda Swift

The 11-member class of astronauts and three Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronauts take a break from training to pose for their group portrait.
(Photo: NASA)
For three science teachers, their dreams of going into space may soon become a reality.

NASA started looking for educators who could be involved in space exploration in January 2003. They wanted teachers to inspire the next generation of space explorers and to get kids motivated to learn about math, science, and engineering. So they held a contest.

The winners are science teachers Joe Acaba, from Dunnellon, Florida; Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburg, from Vancouver, Washington; and Ricky Arnold, who teaches in Bucharest, Romania.

"My students were very excited," said Metcalf-Lindenburg. "I think they realized just what an honor it is and what it really means that I'm leaving to go into training."

The educators are hopeful that their experiences in space will allow them to help get kids more interested in science. They are looking forward to doing what they can to get kids excited about learning.

"I think someone asked me, 'Why have an educator [in space]?'" said Arnold. "Not everybody growing up has a test pilot that they know, and not everybody has a Ph.D. scientist that they know, but everyone has a personal connection with a teacher."

After two years of training, the teachers will be in line for space missions. They may even land on the moon!

"I hope to show kids that science is fun, and if you work hard you can have a good time," said Acaba.