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Teachers Named NASA Educator Fellows

Buzz Aldrin Elementary teachers to teach educators solar system sciences.

There was no question where Timothy Harazin learned to love teaching. “I’m sure that came from my father. He was always there to explain things to me,” Harazin said.

Harazin and Mark Carpenter, both teachers at Buzz Aldrin Elementary School, were recently selected as two of 15 prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers awarded the NASA’s Messenger Educator Fellowship. The program is named for NASA’s Messenger Mission, which will send a spacecraft to study Mercury in 2004.

AS EDUCATOR FELLOWS, Harazin and Carpenter will be asked to conduct national educator workshops and train a minimum of 120 teachers for the program. The goal of the program is to train approximately 27,000 educators in teaching methods which can be used for educating students about solar system science, including planetary observations, solar system exploration and engineering.

Harazin, now the educational technology and science specialist at Aldrin, grew up in a suburb of Chicago and attended Illinois State University which, at the time, was mainly a teachers’ school.

“Tim is just a natural catalyst in terms of science and space and out-of-the-box thinking,” said Gina Roth, principal of Aldrin Elementary.

The role of an technology specialist offered Harazin the opportunity to teach his peers, as well as students, how to make the most use of the possibilities modern technology can offer. In the future though, Harazin said he hopes to “bring his focus back to science.”

CARPENTER’S CAREER has followed a similar trajectory. Carpenter said that he has always known he wanted to be a teacher. “I always liked my teachers,” he said.

Carpenter spent his youth watching space launches from his home town in Alabama before taking that fascination into his studies. He did his undergraduate work in Birmingham, Ala., at Samford University, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in science and education and completed his master’s degree in elementary education at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Carpenter started teaching fourth-grade science at Aldrin in 1994 and, nine years later, he is excited to receive the NASA Educator Fellowship. “We know a lot about Mars and we know a lot about Venus, but we don’t know a whole lot about Mercury,” Carpenter said in anticipation of the Messenger launch.

“They’re going to bring back much more than they’re going to take away,” said assistant principal Marty Marinoff. "We're very proud of them both."