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Elementary and Primary Education
Harris County Department of Education
News Release
Tuesday, September 06, 2011

‘Earth to Space Science’ online course “takes off” from Humble ISD in 2011-12
First teacher to complete training creates opportunity for Humble High School students

Determined Humble High School science teacher Tanya Hulett is the first Texas secondary teacher to complete training from Harris County Department of Education to launch a new online high school course called Earth to Space Science. The distinction allows her Humble High students to enroll in future semesters in the NASA-themed,science course being offered through Project Share, a Texas Education Agency online platform offering resources to both teachers and students.

Teachers must complete the free, six-hour online training which is funded by a $400,000 NASA grant before providing the online course to their high school students. A goal of the course is to encourage students to pursue technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

Earth to Space Science is classified as a state capstone course available to students in their fourth year of high school to satisfy science course requirements.

“An obvious benefit of the online course to both students and teachers is convenience,” said Harris County Department of Education Digital Learning manager Jeanie Cole.

Hulett, a 13-year science teacher who teaches a broad range of core science courses, says online courses for initial credit are important for her students for multiple reasons.

“With the new 4X4 curriculum in place, online classes give students more options in their schedule, she said. “With college readiness being a focus, online courses at the high school level are a great way to give students the experience of online classes before they go to college.”

The Texas Legislature enacted the 4X4 plan to require students to earn four credits in high school in four core subjects. In science, students must earn credits in biology, chemistry physics and another lab-based science such as earth or space science.

“The Earth to Space curriculum includes over 100 lessons to introduce concepts and practices that inspire engineering and technology jobs and explore requirements of engineering careers,” said HCDE Digital Learning specialist David McGeary, who coordinated the curriculum for the course. 

NASA resources presented through the course include the Hubble space telescope and a beginner’s guide to aeronautics and engineering.  The online course promotes NASA resources to support science classrooms and space science teaching strategists.  NASA data is used to study the geology of earth, planets and asteroids.

Hulett is particularly excited about sharing the “scientist profile” element of the course with her students so that they can identify with NASA scientists for career possibilities.

“I work with a large number of disadvantaged students,” Hulett said.  “Many of them are not aware of the opportunities they have in front of them and they need to be exposed to methods of learning outside of the box. 

“Students will be excited about finding all the opportunities that are out there ready for them to embrace such as internships, work programs and scholarships.”

In order for online offerings to be successful, students must understand the rigor and time expectations they require, Hulett explained.  The positives for students include fulfilling graduation requirements, graduating early or allowing for additional science or other electives throughout high school.

According to HCDE records, 14 teachers have completed the training while another 24 are currently enrolled. School districts receiving the training so far include Humble, Alief, Round Rock, Victoria, Bastrop, Stephenville, Pflugerville, Clarendon, Miami, Amarillo, Schulenberg and River Road. About 4,000 students are expected to enroll in the online course during a two-year span and about 200 teachers should receive training.

Teacher training for Earth to Space Science online is available free through HCDE at . For more information, call (713) 696-0762.

About HCDE:  Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 26 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond.  Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, and Head Start programs.  We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support.   Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at

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