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Odessa science teacher selected to prestigious LiftOff 2023 Institute

Odessa science teacher selected to prestigious LiftOff 2023 Institute

This science teacher’s career is about to lift off, and the Odessa school where she educates sixth graders will benefit.

Kimberly Neal, a 6th grade science teacher at Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School, has been selected for the prestigious LiftOff 2023 Summer Institute from June 25-30.

The weeklong institute features a series of workshops, hands-on activities, field investigations and presentations by NASA scientists and engineers, according to Ector County ISD. The Institute enables invited teachers to network with other educators while sharing innovative lesson plans and ideas.

Neal was invited following a selection process that required her to submit a lesson plan, a summary of how she will use the information once she returns to her school district, and why she believes it is still important for kids to talk about space, the school district stated.

In response to learning she was been chosen to attend LiftOff 2023, Neal said, “Wow,” adding, “honestly, I didn’t think I had a chance.”

The experience is a dream come true for a self-proclaimed science nerd.

“Flight is my thing. It’s my jam,” said Mrs. Neal. “My heroes are Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. I went to NASA the very first time when I was 7, with my grandparents, and I was hooked.”

Neal notes the power of science teachers.

“I had a 5th grade teacher that was crazy about science and she passed that love on to us,” she said. “She made us memorize all of the bones in the skeleton, stand up in front of the class and name all the bones. She made us work and we loved it.”

LiftOff is a collaborative effort of the University of Texas Center for Space Research, Texas Space Grant Consortium members and affiliates, NASA, and industry. It’s 2023 theme is Planetary Defenders!

Learn more about LiftOff 2023 at this link: here.