Sparking STEM for Teachers and Students

Lockheed Martin Hosts Teachers at the DMSP Launch, Visits Local Classrooms


Engineers Devon Stancliffe (left), Jonathan Delarosa (seated), Nathan Jones (back) and Chad LaRue (right) describe magnetism to 5th grade students during a hands-on Engineers in the Classroom activity.

On Thursday, April 3, fifth grade math and science teacher Shelli Murphy woke up at 3 a.m. to get ready to experience a live launch of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite atop an Atlas V rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), Calif. The satellite is equipped with a variety of sophisticated sensors that collect specialized weather data in all conditions improving weather prediction reliability and performance for the U.S. Air Force and civilian agencies.  

“It was an opportunity of a lifetime!” said Murphy, who was one of four teachers hosted by Lockheed Martin to attend launch day events. “Thank you for recognizing teachers as the professionals they are and the impact they have on students’ lives.”


Fifth grade math and science teacher Shelli Murphy, middle school computer tech and digital media teacher Susan Diaz, high school chemistry teacher Paul Johnson and high school physics teacher Ken Newbery smile in front of a ULA launch facility during a VAFB tour.

Teachers Experience Live Launch and Satellite Tour
The four teachers that Lockheed Martin hosted have all spent 8-weeks in previous summers working at Lockheed Martin through Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME), which has a 30-year partnership with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Sunnyvale, Calif. The educators had the opportunity to witness the launch alongside two DMSP program representatives and 10 early career Lockheed Martin employees, who were nominated by their leadership to attend the launch as recognition of their top performance.

Following the launch, the group participated in a breakfast presentation with STEM supporter Iris Bombelyn, VP of narrowband communications and MUOS program manager for Space Systems Company, who shared tips on leadership, innovation and change.

“Set your goals like a rubber band,” Bombelyn encouraged. “Stretch them high enough to get the maximum force to get there. Too far and you will break, and not far enough will not move you forward.”

The group was also treated to a behind-the-scenes tour at VAFB to see the National Reconnaissance Office Cold War-era declassified GAMBIT and HEXAGON satellites, which were both built at the Lockheed Martin Sunnyvale facility, and visited multiple launch pads. This unique professional development opportunity was designed to provide a hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experience for the teachers to share with their students—highlighting science in action.


Iris Bombelyn, VP of narrowband communications and MUOS program manager for Space Systems Company, demonstrates magnetic fields to 5th graders during an Engineers in the Classroom activity. 

Employees Spark Student Interest in STEM and Space
The day after the launch, a dozen Lockheed Martin employees visited Miguelito Elementary School in Lompoc, Calif., for a STEM activity session to help raise awareness of the recent launch and DMSP weather satellite program. Approximately 90 students participated in the “Cosmic Challenge” weather trivia game, an Engineer in the Classroom activity on space weather and magnetism and a career panel discussion where four employees shared information on their careers at Lockheed Martin and fielded questions from students. The school was also given a small grant from Lockheed Martin to support their newly established STEM club.

Lockheed Martin’s Commitment to STEM
The teachers’ experience at the launch and the employee visit to local classrooms are part of the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Launch and Learn program, which is designed to connect STEM outreach to company launches and local communities. Previous Launch and Learn events supported launches for the SBIRS GEO-2  spacecraft for the U.S. Air Force, MUOS satellite for the U.S. Navy, AEHF satellite for the U.S. Air Force and MAVEN spacecraft for NASA.

As part of its efforts to inspire tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians and to strengthen the future workforce talent pipeline, Lockheed Martin approaches STEM outreach with a commitment to programs and events focused on student achievement, teacher development, and gender and ethnic diversity. For its next STEM outreach event, Lockheed Martin is proud to be the Founding and Presenting Host of the third annual USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. April 26-27.


Five-year-old Michael Antoni wants to be an astronaut when he grows up and is dressed the part, demonstrating his excitement for space at the DMSP launch! 

April 7, 2014