Kaci Heins, Space Center University Director at Space Center Houston, has been selected to receive the 2020 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award. 


The award, named for Mercury and Apollo astronaut Alan Shepard, is presented jointly by the Space Foundation, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in recognition of creative and innovative use of technology by K–12 educators, or district-level education personnel. 


Heins’ selection for this honor was based on her impressive legacy of achievements, which includes her work as Space Center University Director at Space Center Houston in Houston, Tex, where she currently develops innovative mission-based content and oversees immersive education programs such as Space Center University®, Stars & STEM, as well as many other programs and special events. Heins is instrumental in developing authentic learning experiences to inspire the next generation of explorers. She has also established an intern program for Space Center Houston’s education department.


Prior to her time at Space Center Houston, Heins had a distinguished teaching career, during which she was recognized as 2015 Arizona Science Teachers Association Middle School Teacher of the Year, 2014 Flagstaff STEM City Teacher of the Year, and 2014 Air Force Association National Aerospace Teacher of the Year, among other honors. 


In addition to the numerous teaching accolades Kaci has received, she was also recipient of the 2017 Space Center Houston Education Leadership Award and the 2016 PBS Digital Learning Media Innovator award.


Her many STEM-related presentations and speaking engagements have included recent appearances as a keynote speaker at the 2019 Society of Women Engineers Houston Chapter’s “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” and the 2019 Arizona Science Teachers Association Conference.


In addition to being a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, Heins is affiliated with the National Rocketry Association, the NASA JPL Solar System Ambassadors program, the Association of Science and Technology Centers, and she is an alumna of NOAA’s Teachers at Sea program.


Heins graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, Emphasis in Science, and Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Arts degree, Major in Secondary Education, Emphasis in Technology, Southeast Missouri State.


About the Award

The award will be presented to Heins on Monday, March 30, 2020, during the Space Foundation Teacher Liaison Professional Development Workshop at the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs. See previous Shepard Award recipients at www.spacesymposium.org/about-us/space-foundation-awards/.


To learn more about Space Foundation STEM education programs and professional development for educators, please visit www.discoverspace.org.


About the Astronauts Memorial Foundation
Founded in the wake of the Challenger accident in 1986, AMF honors and memorializes 25 astronauts who sacrificed their lives for human space Exploration. AMF, a private, not-for-profit organization, built and maintains two major facilities at the John F. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Space Mirror Memorial is a 42-foot high by 50-foot wide polished granite monument designated by Congress to be the national memorial for America’s astronauts. At the 
Center for Space Education AMF partners with NASA to inspire future generations of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. Students, teachers and mentors experience building rockets, robotic competitions and other hands-on space-related learning activities led by NASA space education specialists. The Center for Space Education also houses a massive conference space with state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities. This conference space is used for NASA Day of Remembrance ceremonies as well as educational programs, community and international conferences throughout the year, including the NASA collegiate Robotic Mining Competition involving over 500 students from almost 50 colleges throughout the nation. For more information about AMF visit www.amfcse.org, and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. See award information at https://www.amfcse.org/alan-shepard-technology-in-education-award.

About the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA is an agency of the United States government, responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and aeronautics and aerospace research. Operational since 1958, NASA’s mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. It has led U.S. space exploration including the Mercury and Gemini space programs, the Apollo missions to the Moon, the Space Shuttle, U.S. involvement in the International Space Station, the Hubble Telescope and robotic interplanetary and distant space missions. NASA is also responsible for long-term civilian and military aerospace research and research focused on better understanding Earth, the solar systems, and the universe beyond. For more information, go to www.nasa.gov. 


About the Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the world’s premier organization to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate on behalf of the global space community. It is a leader in space awareness activities, educational programs, and major industry events, including the annual 
Space Symposium. Space Foundation headquarters is in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, and has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere®, and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a Washington, D.C., office, as well as field representatives in Houston and on the Florida Space Coast. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space Certification and Spa
ce Technology Hall of Fame
® programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit both websites — www.SpaceFoundation.org and DiscoverSpace.org — and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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Space Foundation contact:   

Carol Hively, Director – Public Relations & Team Communications