Susan Kohler

EPDC Education Specialist @ NASA Glenn Research Center

Presentation Title: NASA STEM Engagement with Engineering Design Challenges: Powered and Pumped Up with Solar Energy
Abstract: The NASA’s Powered and Pumped Up Engineering Design Challenge was developed to engage middle school students in designing, building and improving a stand-alone solar-powered pumping system to move water as quickly as possible between two containers.  The facilitator guide includes:

  1. Introduction to the Engineering Design Process
  2. Facilitator Instructions
  3. Three Supporting Science Investigations for scaffolding
  4. Assessment tools
  5. Student Journals for all three Investigations and the challenge.

The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps that engineers use to guide them as they solve problems. What makes this curriculum different than others is that there is no “recipe” for building the items in each activity and there are no given drawings. The emphasis is for students to understand that engineers must “imagine and plan” before they begin to build and experiment.

Educators will learn to navigate the NASA resources to find resources incorporating the Engineering Design Process. They will complete a STEM inquiry-based supporting activity from the Challenge facilitator guide.  All activities presented correlate to the NGSS and Core and Science standards.

Biography: Susan Kohler is the current Education Professional Development Specialist for the EPDC (Educator Professional Development Collaborative) Project at NASA Glenn Research Center and a Faculty of practice at Texas State University in the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research. With more than 25 years of K-12 educational leadership experience, her workshops feature insights and expertise in Instructional Strategies and Implementation of STEM programs.  She taught science for 13 years at the high school level before being promoted to Asst. Principal, Principal and Curriculum Director.  Her credentials include a Master’s in Education Administration and research in Neurophysiology. As the NASA EPDC education specialist, she has presented educator workshops at state and national conferences in the NASA Glenn Research Center six state region (Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin) for the past 8 years. She has collaborated with districts in the six state regions to provide professional development at the building and district level in STEM, Engineering Design and PBL. The work includes opening and sustaining new STEM and STEAM schools.