Prestigious Award Goes to NASA Climate Change Research Initiative Middle School Science Teacher
In October, 2022, NASA Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) middle school science teacher, Sarah Slack, who teaches at New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) Intermediate School 223 Montauk in Brooklyn, was awarded the 2022 Math ƒor America (MfA) Muller Award for Professional Influence in Education. This $20,000 honor award is given to two New York City public school teachers who, during their tenure as MƒA Master Teachers, have influenced the teaching profession in exceptional ways.
Read more about the award: https://www.mathforamerica.org/mfa-muller-award-professional-influence-education
Sarah Slack has taught in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in Brooklyn for the last 13 years. Slack first connected with the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Office of Education in collaboration with the NYCDOE Citizen Science Teacher Experimentation Program. Slack and other teachers participating in the program developed curricula that supported teachers and students from across the NYCDOE to investigate the urban heat island effect. Slack later led a research team on a project entitled, “Characterizing the Urban Land Surface Temperature via an Innovative, Multi-Platformed Suite of Satellite and Ground-Based Remote Sensing Technologies”, as part of NASA’s CCRI program under the mentorship of Dr. Reggie Blake and Dr. Hamid Norouzi. During her work with CCRI, Slack created a unit plan designed to involve students in authentic research related to the urban heat island effect. She has presented her work at recent National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), American Geophysical Union (AGU), and North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) conferences, and the CCRI unit plan was a key artifact submitted for consideration to the Muller Award committee.
Slack has also participated in multiple Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET) workshops to improve her Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills and has worked with the AEROKATS and ROVER Education Network Project, part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Science Activation program, to build and launch a Terra ROVER to collect temperature data around her school campus. She participates in the Minority University Research and Education (MUREP – administered by NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement) Program’s Geospatial Technology workshops at Bronx Community College and has frequently collaborated with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) team to share data and lesson plans. Ms. Slack also serves as a CCRI Education Ambassador, a role in which she and other CCRI Education Ambassador’s meet with the NASA Education Program Specialist on a monthly basis to collaborate, share resources, and provide community STEM engagement events.
Slack is co-chair of the NYCDOE’s Climate Education Leadership Team, where she engages more students and teachers in efforts to understand how communities can build resilience in the face of a changing climate, and she was a founding member of the NYC Climate and Resilience Education Task Force, which provides resources for teachers at all grade levels in NYC schools. She spent three months in Antarctica doing research to connect her students to exciting polar science and the global impacts of a changing climate. Slack earned her B.S. in Biology from Kalamazoo College and her M.S. in Plant Biology from the University of Minnesota, and she worked in environmental education before joining the NYC Teaching Fellows program in 2009.
“I’m immensely gratified to be receiving the MƒA Muller Award, not only for honor, but also because it is an acknowledgement of the essential role teachers play in empowering future leaders to steer our communities away from a climate catastrophe,” said Slack. “I am constantly inspired by the curiosity, sense of personal agency, and critical thinking skills I see building in my students, and even more encouraged knowing there is a growing cohort of teachers who are dedicated to improving science education in general and climate education in particular.” ~ Sarah Slack
Congratulations to Sarah for her award and all of her pioneering and innovative work in STEM and climate change education. For more information on how to get involved in NASA’s Climate Change Research Initiative program, please visit: https://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/ccri/