NC Teachers Win New Tools to Enhance Learning About Space Exploration

Raleigh -- North Carolina Governor Cooper's Office June 7, 2021 Press Release 

Teachers Win New Tools to Enhance Learning About Space

ExplorationSpace Exploration Bundles Awarded to Four Schools in Hickory, Burke, Pitt, and Union Counties


Jun 7, 2021
Four North Carolina teachers will get new tools and technology to help teach about outer space and inspire and empower students in the field of space exploration. The space education bundles are valued at $5,000 each and include a large Mars or Moon learning map, Mimio Mybot educational robotics system, a Lunar or Mars Pro Globe with augmented reality technology, and many other resources. 

Educators teaching 5th-8th grade could apply for the competition through the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE), a business-led, education non-profit within the Governor’s Office. The Moon and Mars Bundles were donated by Public Consulting Group and the Aldrin Family Foundation.  

Winning teachers include:

Vanessa Lail of Grandview Middle School (Hickory Public Schools)
Andrea Gladden of East Burke Middle School (Burke County Schools)
Elizabeth Sanderson of Hope Middle School (Pitt County Schools)
H. Lee Hurst of Piedmont Middle School (Union County Public Schools) 
“Teachers can be the spark that inspires students to follow a promising career path like space exploration. It’s exciting to see students interested in science and math because we need more young people in our workforce pursuing STEM careers,” Governor Roy Cooper said.

A total of 27 educators applied statewide for the competition by writing two paragraphs about what space exploration means to them and what winning these bundles would provide to their counties.

“As part of our 35th Anniversary, PCG employees who live, work, and play in North Carolina are proud to support public school teachers and students who are excited about space. Whether they go on to NC State University or get a technical certificate from Duke Energy‘s Apprentice Program, learning about space exploration and colonization is going to prepare these students for the future. It is very exciting,” said Tony McLean Brown of Public Consulting Group.

“We strive to ensure that students never lose their excitement to learn about space. We hope that these deserving schools and their students are reenergized by the hands-on experiences offered by the Mars and Moon Maps and the curriculum that comes with them,” added Andy Aldrin, president of Aldrin Family Foundation. 

The contest grew out of an online conference sponsored by NCBCE last year to help educators with remote learning. The Aldrin Family Foundation presented at the NC Student Connect Conferences where they provided useful knowledge and tools for NC STEM teachers on how to incorporate space exploration into their classes to increase interactivity and interest. The session left teachers across North Carolina excited and interested in finding more ways to engage their students in learning about space. The Aldrin Family Foundation, along with Public Consulting Group, decided to award four of the large bundles to North Carolina STEM teachers. 

Space-related careers include astronauts, engineers, space suit designers, satellite technicians, communications experts and other STEM (science technology engineering and math) jobs.

“I didn't realize the many pathways which existed for a career in a space-related field. I would love the chance to share with my own students that there are a multitude of career paths related to this fascinating field, and that they really do have the potential to pursue a space-related career,” winning teacher Vanessa Lail (Hickory Public Schools) wrote in her application.   


Since 1983, NCBCE has provided a critical link between North Carolina business leaders and the state's education decision-makers, helping to create connections between the education curriculum and the overall work readiness of people across the state.

About Public Consulting Group

Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, PCG helps primarily public sector health, education, and human services organizations make measurable improvements to their performance and processes.

At PCG, we’re passionate about getting results for our clients. Because we know that in the public sector, good results mean healthy, empowered, and successful individuals, families, and communities.

About the Aldrin Family Foundation

The Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) strives to cultivate the next generation of space leaders, entrepreneurs and explorers who will extend human habitation beyond the Earth to the Moon and Mars. AFF’s STEAM-based educational tools, educational activities and programs span from a child’s first classroom experience through graduate school and professional programs. This vertical pathway unites explorers at all levels to learn from each other’s vision for space, ultimately creating the first generation of Martians. 


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