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LiftOff 2018: Reach New Heights | Reveal the Unknown | Benefit All Humankind


Beginning in the summer of 1990, the NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium initiated weeklong professional development training for teachers. This aerospace workshop, called LiftOff, emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning experiences by incorporating a space science theme supported by NASA missions. Teacher participants are provided with information and experiences through speakers, hands-on activities and field investigations that promote space science and enrichment activities for themselves and others.


NASA’s stated vision is: To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

Indeed, since its founding in 1958, it has reached that goal numerous times over. From walking on the moon to landing on Mars, NASA has brought the wonders of space to people on Earth for decades. Thousands of people have been working around the world — and off of it — for decades, trying to answer some basic questions. What’s out there? How do we get there? What will we find? What can we learn there, or learn just by trying to get there, that will make life better here on Earth?

So what does the future at NASA have in store for us?

  • Adding to its existing robotic fleet at the Red Planet with the InSight Mars lander set to study the planet’s interior and the Mars 2020 rover will look for signs of past microbial life, gather samples for future return to Earth and investigate resources that could someday support astronauts.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, studying every phase in the history of our Universe in infrared, while the Parker Solar Probe will “touch the sun,” travelling closer to the surface than any spacecraft before.
  • NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx, arrives at the near-Earth asteroid Bennu in August 2018, and will return a sample for study in 2023.
  • Launching no later than June 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will search for planets outside our solar system by monitoring 200,000 bright, nearby stars.
  • And a mission to Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon Europa is being planned for launch in the 2020s.

Building on this growing scientific knowledge of our solar system, NASA is developing the most advanced rocket and spacecraft to extend human presence farther into space than we have ever traveled before. Launching from a revitalized NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will carry astronauts aboard NASA’s Orion Spacecraft past the Moon, and eventually to Mars.

On Earth and in space, NASA is developing, testing and flying cutting-edge technologies for a new future of human and robotic exploration. NASA’s current and future Earth missions use the vantage point of space to understand and explore our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future.

NASA brings together technology, science, and unique global Earth observations to provide societal benefits and strengthen our nation. Critical to understanding how our planet’s natural resources and climate are changing, our observations form the foundation for important environmental planning and decisions by people all over the world.

We celebrate all that NASA has contributed and the engineering behind its accomplishments at LiftOff 2018!


  • Presentations by NASA scientists and engineers
  • Tours of NASA and Space Center Houston
  • Hands-on, inquiry based classroom activities aligned to educational standards
  • Career Exploration
  • Teacher Feature (sharing of classroom lessons and activities)
  • Opportunity to interact with researchers dedicated to space missions


  1. Currently employed as a 4-12 grade classroom educator
  2. Minimum one year teaching experience prior to workshop
  3. Demonstrate willingness to share information with others
  4. Must be a U.S. citizen


  • Texas Participants: FREE – All expenses paid by TSGC upon selection
  • Out-of-State: $750 registration fee + travel to Houston, Texas
  • Applications: Must be submitted online

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About Heidi DeGarmo, South-Metro Salem STEM Webmaster (137 Articles)
Heidi DeGarmo is a senior at OregonTech majoring in IT-Health Informatics. As a combat veteran it is a passion of hers to pay it forward. The South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership (SMSP) is a collaboration of school districts, community colleges, universities, out-of-school programs and business and community partners that is focused on increasing student access and success in STEM fields.