Classroom to the Sky: STEMinar 2020 brings passionate educators from around the world to share research-based teaching strategies, undergraduate and graduate research in the areas of STEM and/or aerospace, as well as addressing issues currently affecting the STEM education community for K-12 educators. It is our hope that by transitioning Classroom to the Sky to a virtual one-day STEM learning event, we will have the opportunity to reach a global audience of educators and provide them with the tools and knowledge needed to incorporate STEM learning in their classrooms.

*Polk County Public School Teachers can receive in-service points available through the Science Department. 

Expert Presenters

Learn from experienced leaders in the STEM, aerospace, aviation, and career education communities.

Breakout Sessions

Customize your STEMinar experience for lasting impact by attending the breakout sessions with which you feel best fit your needs.

Panel Discussion

Hear from STEM educators, Museum Managers, College/University Directors and Aerospace and STEM Industry Leaders discuss current issues facing the STEM education community and share best practices.

Recorded Sessions

Can't attend the LIVE event on November 14, 2020? We have a solution! When you register, you will have the option to select whether you will be attending the event LIVE or if you would like to receive an email with the recorded sessions. This way you can watch the sessions at a more convenient time.

Flight Opportunity

For those of you who have attended our face-to-face Classroom to the Sky event you know one our most popular aspects of the event is the opportunity to fly in a general aviation aircraft. Although we have transitioned to an online platform we would still like to offer our registrants the opportunity to come and fly with us. The date of the flights will be determined at a later time,  all you have to do is check the box that you are interested in receiving more information when you register.

Classroom to the Sky: STEMinar 2020 Schedule

12:00 - 12:10 Welcome Message
12:10 - 12:40 Keynote Speaker
12:40 - 1:40 Panel
1:40 - 2:00 Networking Break
2:00 - 2:50 Sessions A - D
2:50 - 3:00 Networking Break
3:00 - 3:50 Sessions E - H
3:50 - 4:00 Networking Break
4:00 - 4:50 Sessions I - L
4:50 - 5:00 Networking Break
5:00 - 5:50 Sessions M - O
5:50 - 6:00 Networking Break
6:00 - 6:30 Keynote Speaker
6:30 - 6:40 Thank you/Wrap-Up

KeyNote Speaker

Dr. Barbara Gruber

Assistant Director of Education Programs
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Barb Gruber Headshot2

Barbara Gruber, PhD CETL, is the Assistant Director of Education, School Programs at the National Air and Space Museum. Her programs focus on student and educator experiences with the Museum.

Before joining the Museum, she served as the Loudoun County Public Schools' Aerospace Educator in residence, a position at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center from 2015 to2017. She worked for Loudoun County Public schools starting in 2000 as the technology resource teacher at Farmwell Station Middle School and had served as a chemistry teacher at Freedom High School, a staff development trainer for Technology Resource Services, the technology resource specialist for Technology Resource Services, and an administrative intern at Moorefield Station Elementary School.

Barb holds a PhD in Education with an emphasis in Instructional Technology and Educational Policy from George Mason University, a Masters in Education in Administration and Leadership from The University of Phoenix, a Masters in Education in Educational Technology from San Diego State University, and a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry Education from California University of Pennsylvania.

She holds a Virginia Postgraduate Professional License in chemistry, administration, and supervision preK-12. She holds a student pilot certificate and flies a 1957 Cessna Skyhawk. She is a Certified Educational Technology Leader (CETL) from The Consortium of School Networks (CoSN) and was named by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) as a "20 to Watch" Educational Technology Leader in 2014.

KeyNote Speaker

Dr. Samuel Garcia Jr.

Educator Professional Development Specialist, Kennedy Space Center & Assistant Professor of Practice, LBJ Institute for Education and Research at Texas State University


Dr. Samuel García Jr. serves as an Educator Professional Development Specialist at Kennedy Space Center and Assistant Professor of Practice for the LBJ Institute for Education and Research at Texas State University. Prior to his position at Kennedy Space Center, Dr. García worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. As an education specialist, Dr. García works to help develop STEM educational mindsets, tools, and resources for teachers to implement in their classrooms that respond to diverse student needs and increase diversity in STEM fields. He also works with faculty serving in Minority Serving Institutions (MSI’s) in developing STEM educational tools and resources for teachers to implement in their classrooms. Prior to working in higher education, Dr. García served as secondary school educator in Rio Grande Valley in Texas for seven years. Dr. García’s research agenda is geared towards community and educational change by creating healthy, equitable, and culturally responsive STEM learning experiences for traditionally underserved populations.  Dr. García earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas Río Grande Valley, formerly University of Texas Pan American and holds a doctorate degree in School Improvement from Texas State University.





Jayme Jamison

Jayme Jamison

Florida Air Museum Manager

Jayme Jamison is the Museum Manager and has been with the Florida Air Museum for three years. She previously served as the Curator of Education and Programming at the Polk County History Center and served as a classroom teacher for 7 years prior. In 2018 Jayme was recognized as the Outstanding New Professional of the year by the Florida Association of Museums. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science Education from the University of Central Florid and a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies from the University of Oklahoma. While not a pilot herself, Jayme grew up around a great variety of military aircraft and enjoys when the U.S. Navy Blue Angels make it out for the Annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo, the primary fundraiser for the Florida Air Museum.

Steve Cochran Photo

Steve Cochran

Polk County Public Schools Senior Director for Workforce Education and Multiple Pathways

Steven Cochran graduated from the University of Florida in December 1991 and began work on his master's degree in special education in January 1992. In August 1992 he began teaching for Polk County Public Schools (PCPS) at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland Florida as a teacher for students with disabilities. In 1994, Mr. Cochran provided special education services to students who were incarcerated in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities. In 1996 he was selected to supervise a grant funded program called the Violence Intervention Program or VIP. The purpose of this program was to offer in alternatives for students who were suspended from school for fighting. During the 1997 – 1998 school year Mr. Cochran was deployed to Bosnia, part of the former Yugoslavia for peacekeeping operations. Upon his return he was selected as the lead teacher of the Polk County Sheriff's Boot Camp until July 2001. He continued to work in alternative education/DJJ programs in various leadership positions which cumulated in him being named Senior Coordinator for the department in 2004. In 2005 and 2006, Mr. Cochran was deployed again as an instructor at the military police school in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. When Mr. Cochran returned, he continued to serve in his role as Senior coordinator Intel he was named assistant director at Ridge Technical College in Winter Haven Florida. In 2012, he was asked to transfer to Summerlin Academy to be the Commandant of the military- style school. After completing PCPS principal preparation program he was designated as a principal but retained the title of Commandant because of the military structure of the school. In 2014 Mr. Cochran retired from military after serving 24 years. In 2018 Mr. Cochran was asked to serve as the acting PCPS Senior Dir. for workforce education and multiple pathways. The acting was removed from Mr. Cochran's title in 2019. Mr. Cochran is a board member of Polk County's Career Source, the Florida Career Pathways Network and the National Career Academy Coalition. Mr. Cochran has been married to his wife Melissa for 28 years and has two children, Max and Kelsey.

Ed Young

Ed Young

Executive Director of Aerospace Center for Excellence and Kansas State University and Southeastern University Professor

Ed Young has 30 years of public service experience, including leadership positions in city, county, and state government. Young served as the director of aviation for the State of Kansas. He has been a professor of aviation law, environmental planning, conflict resolution, finance, public administration, and history at various institution including Kansas State Poly and Southeastern University. Mr. Young received a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Public Administration, and Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas; a Certificate in Risk and Safety Management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a commercial pilot/Flight Instructor – Instruments/Multi-Engine and an Unmanned Aerial System pilot. He has received the following awards and recognitions; Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, class of 2019; AUVSI National Award (2019); ACEC National Engineering Honors Award (2012, 2019); AASHTO President’s Award for Aviation; NASAO Outstanding State Program Award; Center for Aviation Research and Education Outreach Award; KPWA Efficiency and Effectiveness Award; and multiple NACO county leadership program awards.

J Sasser

Jennifer Sasser

Director of the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA)

For over 23 years Jennifer Sasser has served as an educator in Polk County. She joins the Central Florida Aerospace Academy as the Director this year after holding a variety of instructional and leadership positions. She is dedicated to promoting career and technical opportunities for current and future students. She is a member of Women in Aviation International and Florida Association of School Based Administrators. She holds a Master’s degree from Southeastern University and resides in Lakeland with her husband. She is a true Florida girl; enjoying outdoor activities like fishing, hunting and spending time on the water.

Eric Cump

Eric Crump

Polk State Aerospace Program Director

Eric Crump is the Aerospace Program Director for Polk State College in Lakeland, Florida. He also serves as Business Principal for Red Eye Aviation, an aviation training consultancy. Eric began flight training at 13 as a ploy by his parents to encourage him to buckle down and take school seriously. It worked. Eric is a long-time flight and classroom instructor who is passionate about aviation safety and the importance of preparing and inspiring the next generation to take on the aviation industry.



More than Amelia: Incorporating Female Aviators in History Curriculum

Presenter: Jayme Jamison

Museum Manager, Florida Air Museum 

Grade Level Alignment: Middle/High School

More than Amelia : Incorporating Female Aviators in History Curriculum

As with any other topic in history, women have paved a pioneering path from the earliest flying exploits to todays far reaching space exploration. From Aeronauts to Astronauts and all the engineers and mathematicians in between. Join along as we look at select stories and explore utilizing primary resources to create lasting learning opportunities in your classroom.


how veggies
are grown on the International Space Station

Presenter: Ed Rosenthal

Space Technology Hall of Fame

Founder and Chairman of Florikan ESA LLC

How veggies
are grown on the International Space Station

How veggies are grown in space on the ISS with Florikan Controlled Release Fertilizer which is a NASA Spinoff Technology.

Florikan Controlled Release Fertilizer is a Space Technology certified product, which is used by Space Plant Biology on the ISS to grow veggies and in the Advanced Plant Habitat.


NOAA Weather - Science for Safety; Aviation Edition

Presenters: Amanda Martin, Senior Aviation Meteorologist at NOAA Aviation Weather Center and Richard Henning, Flight Director at NOAA Aircraft Operations Center

NOAA Weather - Science for Safety: Aviation Edition

How's the weather up there? This is a key question for any pilot or passenger in an aircraft. Learn about the science meteorologists at NOAA's Aviation Weather Center use to make forecasts and communicate conditions to keep commercial flights and general aviators safe. What about those on the ground? Find out how meteorologists aboard NOAA Hurricane Hunters help our aircraft safely fly through hurricanes and winter storms to collect the data forecasters need to help those in harm's way protect lives and property. Links to NOAA education resources on weather, aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, as well as information on student opportunities and NOAA career paths will be provided.

Assistant Professor of Aeronautical Science

Strategies to Improve Retention of Minority Women in Aviation Higher Education

Presenter: Dr. Jorge Albelo

Assistant Professor of Aeronautical Science

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Grade-Level Alignment: Post-Secondary and Administration

Strategies to Improve Retention of Minority Women in Aviation Higher Education

This training session is a two-part presentation. Two qualitative research findings will be discussed, followed by a practical application discussion on possible strategies to improve minority women's retention in aviation degrees. The objectives are: (1) to raise awareness for equality of race and gender in aviation higher education institutions; (2) explore the needs and wants that could lead to academic success for minority women; (3) reaffirm the importance of faculty's academic support to first-year female students.


High Altitude Weather Balloons

Presenter: Richele Floyd

Aerospace Center for Excellence 

Scholarship Director

Grade Level Alignment: Middle School

High Altitude Weather Balloons

You and your students can do it! Learn the proper procedures and suggested design tips to collect data from a “near-space” environment. This is a fun and
unique way to teach your students about the layers of the atmosphere, weather, air pressure, velocity, and so much more.

Amy PSC Headshot

Creating a Postitive Learning Environment in STEM Courses

Presenter: Amy Rutledge

Professor of Aerospace Studies

Polk State College

Grade Level Alignment: 3rd - Post-Secondary

Creating a Positive Learning Enviornment in STEM Courses

Neuroscientific research demonstrates that a positive learning environment is essential for long-term retention among students. Unfortunately, research also indicates that students tend to experience higher stress and anxiety levels while taking STEM courses. This session will provide practical researched-backed methods for creating positive learning environments for both in-person and online STEM classrooms. 

Brian Headshot

From the Ground Up: A How to Guide to Starting an Aerospace Program at Your School

Presenter: Brian Hughes

Winter Haven High School

Aerospace Teacher

Grade Level Alignment: High School / Aviation Clubs

From the Ground Up: A How to Guide to Starting an Aerospace Program at Your School

Interested in Starting an Aerospace Program at Your School? Don’t know where to start? This breakout session will give you ideas on how to approach your administration with the idea, where to locate a curriculum, how to start a flying club, how to connect with industry partners, and much more! Join me for a step by step guide to navigating the process of creating amazing aerospace opportunities at your school.


Bringing NASA into the Classroom: NASA NEXT GEN STEM

Presenter: Dr. Samuel Garcia Jr.

Educator Professional Development Specialist

Kennedy Space Center

Assistant Professor of Practice for the LBJ Institute for Education and Research at Texas State University

Grade-Level Alignment: KG - 12th Grade

Bringing NASA into the Classroom: NASA NEXT GEN STEM

NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement executed a series of efforts to develop STEM products and opportunities that provide a platform for students to contribute to NASA’s endeavors in exploration and discovery. In this session, participants will explore NASA mission-driven activities and opportunities to engage students in authentic STEM experiences that serve to enhance STEM literacy and help build a vibrant and diverse next generation STEM workforce.


Making Field Trips Virtual – Collaborative School Program Development at the National Air & Space Museum

Presenters: Nichole Thomas & Laura Blanton

Aerospace Educator & HOLT Scholar Program Coordinator with the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and Loudon County Public Schools

Grade Level Alignment: 3rd – 12th 

Making Field Trips Virtual – Collaborative School Program Development at the National Air & Space Museum

What do field trips look like when students can’t physically visit museums during the COVID-19 global pandemic? How can museums foster and support learning during virtual and hybrid learning this fall? Guided by these driving questions, the school programs team at the National Air & Space Museum is pivoting from our hands-on approach to learning on site at our museums at the National Mall and the Steven F. Udvar- Hazy Center to consider how to leverage our platform to support school learning within a digital environment.


Flight Simulation in the Classroom

Presenter: Paul Duty

Gleim Aviation 

Chief Instructor and Aviation Product Manager

Grade Level Alignment: 9th – Secondary and Administration

Flight Simulation in the Classroom

This presentation explains how to successfully integrate flight simulation into STEM education programs. The case for aviation education will be made with a discussion of the abundant aviation opportunities and an industry outlook.

We will explain how simulators are used to reduce costs, increase safety, and make flight training more productive. You will learn how flight simulation benefits education, how to integrate simulation into your curriculum, and how to build an economical and highly effective flight simulator.


Space Communications and Navigation: Without Us, It's all Just Space Junk

Presenter: Dawn Brooks

HEOMD/Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN)

NASA Headquarters

Program Planning Specialist


Space Communications and Navigation: Without Us, It's all Just Space Junk

Jessica Strauss

Science of the Suit

Presenter: Jessica Strauss

Hillsborough County Math and Science Teacher

Space Educator Expedition Crew (SEEC Crew)


Grade-Level Alignment: 3rd - 8th grade

Science of the Suit

A spacesuit is much more than just clothing an astronaut wears to do spacewalks. It is a life-sustaining spacecraft! Deemed an Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU, spacesuits protect against the harsh environment of space. NASA crew support are tasked with designing a suit that ensures astronauts are protected from the extremes of microgravity, solar radiation, space debris, fluctuating temperatures, and the vacuum of space all while enabling astronauts to still have the freedom to move and do repairs on the ISS.

In this session, participants will learn about hands-on investigations to do with students to understand the science behind this extreme environment, the effects it has on the body, and how this shapes the design of life-sustaining space suits.


Exploring the impact of early exposure to research on dual enrollment students post-secondary

Presenter: Samantha Bowyer-Harrison

Assistant Professor of Aeronautical Science 

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach Campus

Grade Level Alignment: Post-Secondary

Exploring the impact of early exposure to research on dual enrollment students post-secondary

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) provides a concurrent enrollment model to high schools across the United States.  The concurrent enrollment opportunity offers science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) college-credit coursework taught by college-credentialed instructors on the student’s high school campus. This presentation explores the affect this opportunity had on individual members of this tight-knit cohort as they progressed through their concurrent enrollment and undergraduate studies, the role of a long-standing mentoring relationship, and their post-graduation decision-making. The research showcases project-based learning as a scaffolding technique for meaningful undergraduate research and how it may illuminate a pathway for students who do not initially see STEM as a viable option.

Eric Cump

Demystifying Dual Enrollment in Aviation Programs

Presenter: Eric Crump

Aerospace Program Director

Polk State College


Demystifying Dual Enrollment in Aviation Programs

Dual enrollment is an awesome opportunity for high schools and students. It provides a great head start for students who are college bound after graduation while also offering free or low-cost tuition as well. Many administrators, teachers, and students are interested in dual enrollment opportunities but may not know where to start, especially with a niche industry like aviation/aerospace. This presentation seeks to demystify process of establishing and managing a dual enrollment program.

Anne Lucietto Photo

Genders Role in the Use of Coping Mechanisms in STEM Courses

Presenter: Dr. Anne Lucietto

Assistant Professor

Purdue University/School of Engineering Technology

Grade-Level Alignment: 10th – Post Secondary and Administration

Genders Role in the Use of Coping Mechanisms in STEM Courses

STEM education is defined differently by nearly everyone. This may be attributed to the examination of the topic through a multitude of lenses. While a great deal of my examination of the topic is focused on engineering and engineering technology students, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the role gender plays in STEM education.  

We have investigated how math anxiety impacts female students and how they compensate for any inhibitions using intuition or other coping mechanisms. Students were queried regarding how they feel in STEM courses, but in general, they were not in the majority. Those responses lead to student understanding and perception of their world and problems presented to them at work, home, and recreational activities. These issues will be discussed and shared for the student majority with a specific look at how gender plays a role in the use of intuition as a coping strategy for these feelings and general lower self-confidence.

For the past six years, we have looked forward to inviting educators across the country to the Aerospace Center for Excellence for Classroom to the Sky. However, with an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to transition our beloved Classroom to the Sky to a virtual platform. We look forward to welcoming everyone back next year for Classroom to the Sky taking place in our 22,000 square foot expansion of the Florida Air Museum consisting of five large convertible classrooms including a holographic room, 3D printers, planetarium, and more.

Sponsor of Classroom to the Sky STEMinar 2020
Sponsor of Classroom to the Sky STEMinar 2020
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