Partner Spotlight: NASA OKSG STEM Engagement Center

Jaime WaltonFront Page, Partners

At the heart of our mission lies a deep-rooted belief in the power of partnerships. Today, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on one of our cherished collaborators: the NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium’s (OKSG) STEM Engagement Center, nestled at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

The NASA OKSG STEM Engagement Center is more than just a hub; it’s a beacon of inspiration, guiding the way for STEM education. Through our partnership, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing their incredible contributions to our mission. But what makes them truly remarkable are the dedicated individuals who drive these efforts.

During a recent professional development session, one of the participating teachers enthusiastically exclaimed, “Best PD I’ve ever attended, hands down.” In our office, you’ll find a bulletin board adorned with photographs from the workshop alongside an inspiring quote from the event, capturing the essence of that memorable day. The Space Week PD project summary provides valuable insights into how teachers found it to be a worthwhile experience.

The OKSG SEC facilitates connections between educators and invaluable NASA resources, such as engineers, and is dedicated to highlighting underrepresented figures in STEM. They are a driving force in championing STEM equity and inclusion professional development. One remarkable individual who shines brightly in this context is Dorinda Risenhoover, the beating heart behind these initiatives in our region.

Dorinda Risenhoover, education coordinator at NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium’s (OKSG) STEM Engagement Center, talks with families about space travel at our 2023 Siegfried Space Week program.

Dorinda, currently working on her PhD, is a true champion of teachers. Her commitment and enthusiasm are contagious. She has a knack for making everyone, be it a teacher or a student, feel capable and valued. Her boundless energy is a source of inspiration for all those who have the privilege of working alongside her.

Let’s delve into the incredible initiatives driven by Dorinda and the OKSG SEC:

Professional Development for Educators
In partnership with organizations like the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, the OKSG SEC delivers top-notch professional development programs. Initiatives like “SENSEsational Science,” robotics workshops, and Space Week sessions empower educators to introduce captivating, hands-on space activities in their classrooms. They not only equip teachers but ignite the curiosity of young minds, nurturing future STEM leaders.

Mentorship Programs for Educators
The year-long NASA mentorship program at the OKSG SEC immerses pre-service and in-service educators in the depths of STEM education, offering over 350 contact hours per participant. This immersive experience not only enriches participants’ understanding of STEM but also equips them to inspire the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.

Family Engagement
The OKSG SEC extends its reach to the community through initiatives like Family STEM Engagement Nights and Student Days. These events bring together hundreds of students and their families for hands-on activities, igniting curiosity about the cosmos and the world of science.

Online STEM Outreach
In today’s digital age, the OKSG SEC continues to educate and inspire through its Facebook page. The page features a treasure trove of engaging STEM demonstrations, easily replicable at home or in the classroom, using readily available and affordable materials.

The NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium’s STEM Engagement Center is not just a partner but a cornerstone in our mission to promote STEM education, exploration, and discovery. Their innovative programs, outreach initiatives, and the passion of individuals like Dorinda have a profound impact on our community. By nurturing a love for science and space, the OKSG SEC is actively shaping the future of STEM thinkers and doers.

Together, we reach for the stars and nurture the scientists, engineers, and explorers of tomorrow. Dorinda, we want to be just like you when we grow up!