About Me

Teaching Experience Academic Background

College Teaching

  • Middle School:

    • 7th Grade Science

    • Science Projects Elective

    • 6th Grade Outdoor School

  • High School:

    • Earth Science

    • Astronomy

    • Honors Astronomy

    • Chemistry in the Earth System

University of California, Santa Barbara

Ph.D. in progress; Stem Education,

  • Focus on Astronomy Education in NGSS, and in countries utilizing spiral curricula
  • Archeoastronomy and education integrations

University of North Dakota, 2016

M.S. Space Studies; emphasis in Planetary Science

  • Capstone: Analog 365 day Mars mission design
  • Research: Synopsis of the Geochemical and Mineralogical Observations of the South Pole and HED Connection of Asteroid (4) Vesta From The Dawn Spacecraft

California State University, Northridge. 2012

M.A. Secondary Science Education

  • Thesis: The Effects of Teacher Investment Through Interaction Upon At Risk Youth Motivation and Achievement in the Secondary Science Classroom
  • Research: Collaborative Technology in Science Classrooms

Astronomy Honors and Distinctions

Aboard NASA's SOFIA Mission, 2017

  • National Astronomy Education Coordinator; US Team, International Astronomical Union
  • National Science Teachers Association Aerospace Advisory Board
  • NSF/Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador
  • State of California Specialized Secondary Programs grant recipient and content author
  • NASA Airborne Educator Ambassador, NASA SOFIA Mission Participant
  • Space Foundation Liaison
  • JPL/NASA Solar System Ambassador
  • Two time Toshiba Innovation grant recipient
  • Founder of student high altitude balloon experiment program
  • NASA Teacher in Space
  • Founder Student Aerospace and Astronomy programs
  • Founder of Community Space Nights

Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador, 2019

Curriculum Development Experience

NASA Infiniscope, Partnership; ASU and LAUSD (2020)

  • ·I reviewed all chosen text for 3-year model high school science courses and determined an effective hierarchical structure.
  • I documented the scope and sequence of Earth and Space NGSS content standards and noted intersections and thematic overlap.
  • I created dynamic activities and virtual field trips to address these overlaps, and ultimately formulated a conceptual framework. NASA will be developing my activities over the next 5 years.

CA Dept. of Ed., Specialized Secondary Programs (2016-2019): Honors Astronomy & Space Missions (sole author):

  • Received $245,000 to develop and publish two unique courses available to every district and teacher in the State, available through the CTE Website.
  • Authored and published statewide curriculum for the first engineering-based astronomy sequence of courses focused on space based data, analysis and experiments.
  • Developed over 300 original labs, observations, projects, assessments and rubrics and design challenges and 25 instructional astronomy videos, published on YouTube

Envision/World Strides (2019, Contract)

  • Provided edits and revision for all student handbooks, instructor guidebooks and teaching material for aerospace camp curricula at Space Center Houston.
  • Edited material for scientific accuracy, pedagogical best practices and authenticity of high altitude balloon experimental design

Accelerate Learning: StemScopes, BBC 2019-present)

  • Reviewed and edited 6th grade National Earth and Space textbook for accuracy, cohesion and content
  • Assisted support team in responding to high level astrophysics related content questions and feedback
  • Developed discussion questions, writing prompts and extension activities to align with over 100 BBC instructional videos

NGSS Living Earth: Earth and Space Specialist, Hart District (2016-2019)

  • Developed curriculum integrating Earth and Space concepts into life science topics, such as evolution and plate tectonics
  • Developed differentiated instructional sequences using the 5E model
  • Developed summative assessment for each sequence, focused on the development of claim-evidence-and reasoning models.

Observational Astronomy Lab Manual (2018-2019)

  • Developed entire course into online platform, using remote observations from SLOOH· and various observation methods (many presented here!)
  • Developed and facilitated an observational astronomy course, including 15 data driven astronomy labs.
  • Contributed to published lab manual written by professors and PhD scientists.

My story....

My earliest memory is of the Challenger Disaster. I was terrified-and fascinated. I devoured everything I could related to space, and wrote essays on Jupiter (still my favorite of the 9). But-studying space was never an "option." There were no classes, my parents were not scientists, and I had no academic support to pursue my passion. So-this was shelved. In high school, I was told and made to believe I wasn't good at science. My parents had divorced after my mother came out, and we moved to a very conservative area. We were targeted, harassed and bullied, long before laws protected us. I was shoved into non-academic classes for an entire quarter, such as drivers' ed and library service. I took biology, which was taught as rote memorization of structures and inference of function. I thought it was horribly boring. In short, my high school experience was pretty terrible. I am not a teacher because I was inspired by my educators-I was appalled by them. I was invisible. No one saw the pain I was in or noticed that my grades tanked. I knew I wanted to go to college, so I enrolled in one of the first charter programs for child actors and graduated at 16. My fear of science perpetuated however, and although I took astronomy and loved it, I did not think I could take any other sciences. I transferred to Humboldt State (Go Jacks!) as a dual Music and Native American Natural Resources major. I put off my lab science as long as possible when geology rocked my world. I suddenly saw the interactions of particles and energy to explain my daily phenomena everywhere around me. I realized I was never bad at science, I believed a lie. I remained in school far longer than I "should" have to take every science class possible. I taught environmental and outdoor education to empower young learners through place based learning. I realized the power that teaching about Earth held, and that had I been shown this earlier, my life would likely be far different.

Unfortunately educators and administrators have believed the lie too. Our system has told us that college bound students take biology, chemistry and physics. Those are drastically different sciences! I am physical science person-and only appreciated biology when I understood the physical processes defining biologic structures. I am of the belief that physics should be taught first, but I digress. Earth science has been labeled "rocks for jocks" or has simply been the dumping ground. Astronomy at the secondary level has been quite rare. During the No Child Left Behind era, Earth Science was a “catch-all,” low level and non-UC course. For many years, I experienced proxy discrimination for simply teaching this content at a high performing school. My students were marginalized, and I felt I was too. My content was not valued, even amongst my peers. I always wished they could just see my class. I wished they could see the students that, like me, had believed that lie about themselves. I wish they could see the spark in their eye when they make connections, and experience success. I wish others experienced the personal transformations that took place as a result of studying the Earth, and the number of students who changed their minds about dropping out or ended up going to college. I have even had one that went on to study Earth Science Education!

Early on, I had the opportunity to teach astronomy, and was once again engrossed. I was crippled, however, by the lack of resources. I have never been a fan of textbooks, and knew this class had to be hands on. No worksheets. So I stayed out until way past midnight way too many nights creating labs. I scoured college lab manuals, read up on current space missions, and tried my best to make the class stellar. In 2013, however, I realized that something had to give. If the resources didn't exist, I had to make them. But my content knowledge was insufficient to do so, so the only answer was to learn more. Enter Master's #2. I spent the next 3 years between 7-11 PM and most weekends studying and working on Space projects, capstone research, or orbital dynamic calculations. That lie? It was just that. I was good at what I practiced, and I just hadn't been given the chance to really practice science!

I brought everything I learned immediately into class. Writing abstracts? Students did that. Cosmic dust? We read about that. "What's that? Could it be collected from a high altitude balloon? Hmmm probably. Can we? Sure!" And my high altitude balloon platform was born. That is an entirely separate story-but if you are interested-please see that portion of my site!

Anyways-I've had a long journey. My passion for astronomy education and unique student opportunities literally marginalized me. The more I did, the more money I brought in and the more unique opportunities and student experiences I brought to the school literally isolated me further from my peers and admin. I am so thankful to be at a new school that embraces my misfit self, and allows me to spread my wings. After all-its' about the students and amplifying their voice. I just gave them the megaphone. I have just never been one to follow the path that works for most. What about those that need a different route? That was me. I bet you have some of those kids in your class as well-maybe you are my secret partner in crime. I had a rough education and set out to be the lighthouse and safety raft for those stuck on that ocean. Earth and Space science have the unique capacity to connect people to place, to unify theory and practice, and to capitalize on natural born curiosity.

That's the watered down version. I might have a book in me when it's all said and done!

I recently heard a podcast called Paradigmatic Silences. I highly recommend. I have heard increasing echoes of my story, of forced silence, by so many incredible educators. If this has happened to you too-please let me know. I'd love to hear your story. And I bet you need to share it.

Dr. Marc Rayman, DAWN Mission Director
At commencement for the Fuel Tank Ball, California Science Center