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CORTLAND, N.Y. – When it’s bright and sunny in Cortland, N.Y., the weather in outer space could look quite a bit different with its intense storms. This “space weather” often produces the spectacular lights that star gazers appreciate. It also inspires the topic of conversation for NASA scientist Alex Young when he visits SUNY Cortland on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Young, an astrophysicist in NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will offer a free public talk titled “What’s the Weather in Space? Sunny with a Chance of Solar Storms!” at 7 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 204.
The New York State Master Teacher Program and the SUNY Cortland School of Education’s Center for the Preparation of 21st Century Teachers sponsor the event, which aligns with the College’s work as an affiliate member of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.
“We’re excited to have Dr. Alex Young share with the community his work at NASA, which no doubt helps highlight the work it takes to bring science to the public,” said Dominick Fantacone M.A.T. ’12, the College’s campus coordinator for the New York State Master Teacher Program and a lecturer of biological sciences. “Dr. Young is familiar with the work we are doing on campus and with local teachers around science communication, as he recently trained at the Alda Center himself.”
Young specializes in studying space weather and solar storms, which are responsible for producing the magnificent lights known as auroras at the North and South Poles. He oversees education and public outreach as associate director of science for the Heliophysics Science Division at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He also currently serves as acting assistant director of science communication for the Goddard Science Directorate.
Several SUNY Cortland faculty members have collaborated on new cross-disciplinary coursework that emphasizes the importance of communicating the discipline effectively. For instance, Angela Pagano, associate professor of biological sciences and assistant dean for accreditation within the School of Education, and Mark Reynolds, lecturer of performing arts, currently lead science students in improvisational activities that aim to sharpen their communication skills. Paul van der Veur, professor of communication studies, has brought in students from his department as well. All three were trained by the Alda Center.
The highly selective Master Teacher Program includes more than 500 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educators from 10 regions across New York state. With 70 Master Teachers each, SUNY Cortland and Stony Brook University serve as the largest regional sites for the teacher development program.
The program gives outstanding teachers in math and science an incentive to continue teaching in New York while providing them opportunities to share methods, experience and insight with fellow teachers. They are recognized for their classroom effectiveness, a commitment to personal growth and a willingness to mentor new teachers and future educators. They also regularly benefit from mini-courses, conferences, workshops and keynote lectures like the one that Young will deliver.
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