The sky or rather the stars are the limit for one Duncan teacher who was chosen for the prestigious LiftOff! Summer Institute at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas this summer.

Sharon Banks from Mark Twain Elementary is representing Duncan in the competitive program sponsored by NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium, which selects teachers who want to increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through space education.

Liftoff 2019’s theme is “The Legacy of Apollo!” And feature workshops which provide teachers the rare - and for most, unique opportunity to spend a week working with professional scientists and engineers at the cutting edge of space exploration.

“Almost 50 years ago, men from Earth left our home planet and journeyed to the moon,” a release said. “It all started in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending astronauts to the moon before the end of the decade.”

Kennedy’s bold challenge came just three weeks after “Mercury” astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in Space.

“On July 20, 1969, culminating eight years of work by thousands of Americans, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took ‘One small step’ in the Sea of Tranquility, calling it ‘a giant leap for mankind,’” the release said. “The moon has been the destination of some of humanity’s most monumental and challenging expeditions.”

Teachers apply for LiftOff and are selected competitively. The workshops are organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs. The weeklong institute features a series of workshops, hands-on activities, field investigations, and presentations by NASA scientists and engineers working on various missions.

Teachers will return from Liftoff to their school districts to not only use

materials received in their own classroom, but also to train other educators. Banks will head to NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas June 23 - June 28 at NASA to conduct experiments, tour facilities, and network with other educators while sharing innovative lesson plans and ideas.