Teachers Experience STEM in Action at the MAVEN Launch

UCF Teachers

An estimated 7,000 people flocked to Florida’s Cape Canaveral to experience NASA’s recent MAVEN launch. The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft was successfully launched Monday, Nov. 18, at 1:28 pm ET aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V-401 rocket. The spacecraft has departed Earth and is now on its way to Mars, where it will study the planet’s upper atmosphere.

Among the crowd were 20 K-12 math and science teachers invited by Lockheed Martin to view the launch. The teachers watched the launch from the Banana Creek viewing site, just five and a half miles from the launch pad.

The teachers who are enrolled in the Lockheed Martin/University of Central Florida Academy for Mathematics and Science (LMA) master’s programs were able to see the real-world applications of math and science first hand. LMA is a 21 year partnership between Lockheed Martin and University of Central Florida focused on improving mathematics, science and technology education for students. The academy supports two innovative master's degree programs that are both dedicated to improving mathematics and science education: a K-8 program and a Transition to Mathematics and Science Teaching program. To date, more than 500 “Lockheed Martin Scholars” have graduated from these programs.  It is estimated that these 20 teachers will positively impact 600 students this year alone, and thousands over their teaching lifetime.

As part of the launch day festivities, Joy Aviles, a 9th grade Algebra I teacher and participant in the LMA program, was interviewed for a NASA-supported live streaming program. During the interview, Aviles shared she is planning to have her class follow MAVEN’s future science activities, and she spoke about the importance of STEM education saying, “math is everything.” She even shared a message to NASA’s Spanish-speaking audience.

Immediately following the successful launch, the teachers had the opportunity to see the Orion spacecraft being built down the road in NASA’s Operations and Checkout Facility. Lockheed Martin program managers shared updates about the spacecraft’s assembly and what to expect from its first high-orbital mission, Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), scheduled for September 2014. They also received a briefing on NASA’s Exploration Design Challenge (EDC) a STEM outreach program for students to research and design ways to protect astronauts from space radiation during deep space missions.

On Monday night after the launch, Jim Crocker, Lockheed Martin Space Systems vice president and general manager of Civil Space, joined Dr. Jim Greene with NASA, a ULA representative and a scientist on the MAVEN mission to discuss the future of Mars exploration. Upwards of 150 people travelled from Colorado as part of the Denver Museum’s outreach for the launch since MAVEN has strong  Colorado ties.

During this post launch event, Dr. Green shared a powerful statement with the audience: “America has the explorer gene. Think about it. Those who didn’t [come to America], stayed where they were, said Dr. Greene. “The idea now is that there are more planets than stars. We do science to explore, and we explore to survive."

At Lockheed Martin, teams of engineers and scientists continue to explore, to innovate, to dream. The corporation’s focused STEM outreach efforts are designed to help spark interest in young minds with the goal to inspire and challenge the next generation of scientists and engineers to continue innovating and developing technologies that will explore unknown frontiers.

November 21, 2013


Teachers Lockheed Martin/University of Central Florida Academy for Mathematics and Science (LMA) teachers experience the MAVEN launch from a Kennedy Space Center viewing site.

Atlas V MAVEN Launch Highlights

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 on November 18, 2013. Video:  United Launch Alliance