Ashlie Blackstone Smith, an eighth grade physical science teacher at Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Girls, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has been selected by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Space Foundation as the recipient of the 2017 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award.
The award is given annually in recognition of creative and innovative use of technology by K-12 educators, or district-level education personnel. The award, named for Mercury and Apollo astronaut Alan Shepard, will be presented during the 33rd Space Symposium opening ceremony on April 3 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The opening ceremony is co-sponsored by Northrop Grumman and the award presentation will be followed with a by-invitation reception co-hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation.
Smith has been a physical science teacher at Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Girls since 2003. Among her achievements there, she:
- Developed 100+ science content videos that have resulted in a flipped classroom year-long experience for students. Student achievement, engagement and class time have increased, allowing more time to incorporate additional laboratory exercises and technology such as iPads, 3D printing and coding.
- Created and implemented lessons incorporating technology such as augmented reality, 3-dimensional design, computer coding and programmable robotics. This resulted in student augmented periodic tables, 3-dimensionally printed atomic structures (via software Tinkercad and Autodesk I23D), coded video games (via software GoogleCS First) and robotic programming (via Sphero).
- Led a middle school innovation committee in charge of facilitating the push for innovative curriculum into the classroom including maker spaces and design-thinking practices. Actions will result in the implementation of a multi-million dollar innovation center on campus, professional development for staff, and a collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Edgerton Center to deliver design thinking workshops to faculty and other schools.
- Facilitated Cubes in Space program (www.cubesinspace.com) supported by idoodlelearning, inc, as well as the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, NASA Wallop's Flight Facility and Langley Research Center, Lockheed Martin and CaptainJudy.com. Outcomes of past programs have led to studentdesigned experiments launched on sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons.
- Facilitated Cassini Scientists for a Day program sponsored by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- Co-designed and implemented annual, month-long Math/Physics Olympics program. Sixty female student participants plan and design tennis ball catapults, egg-catching devices, musical instruments, Sphero robotic coding, specially designed Pringle chip packages and structures for day-long competition.
- Facilitated You Be the Chemist program sponsored by the Chemical Educational Foundation and Dow Chemical Company. Possible outcomes for students include local, state and national competitions based on chemistry with college scholarship opportunities.
Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental biology/zoology from Michigan State University in 2000, and a Master’s degree in secondary science education from Wayne State University in 2005.
The Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium is the premier gathering of all sectors of global space leadership, attracting thousands of participants from dozens of countries.