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Miami teacher Dr. Rossana Chiarella inspires students with aerospace topics

Posted on February 26, 2020 at 3:51 PM by Virginia Smith

Students work on astronomy star finder wheel Dr. Chiarella poses with a student and model rockets

February 26, 2020

Meet Dr. Rossana Chiarella, an elementary teacher in Miami, Florida. She teaches aerospace topics because they are especially motivating for her students. Each year, she presents CAP's AEM program to her fellow educators and encourages them to join as well. She finds CAP materials and lessons easy to adapt for her curriculum. She and her students love the hands-on activities. We asked her some questions about teaching as well as her work with Civil Air Patrol. Her answers are below. 

Tell us about yourself.

I work as an elementary teacher for the Miami Dade County Public Schools system at Palm Springs North Elementary. The teaching experience has enriched my professional and personal skills, and it motivated me to set new professional goals in the science field. Working with children at the elementary level provided the greatest professional satisfaction, and it allowed me to illustrate the importance of applying Space Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (S-STEM) tools for motivating students at an early age in these fields applying effective hands-on teaching techniques.

How many years have you been an educator?

I have 27 years of experience. I am also an educator member of the Civil Air Patrol in Florida, where I have found effective aerospace and science tools for capturing the attention and commitment to science of children in the classroom. I coach and promote Space STEM education via school clubs that involve parents' participation. The Civil Air Patrol education programs allow me to obtain aerospace information for applying in the classroom, and even produce innovative readings of children's stories from the sky using the Teacher Orientation Program (TOP) Flight.

Tell us about some of your awards/recognition as an educator.

  • 2018 National ACE Collaborator Award by Civil Air Patrol.
  • Hispanic Excellence Educator Elementary Awarded by the Governor of the State of Florida, 2017
  • National Aerospace Connection in Education (ACE) Educator of the Year by Civil Air Patrol, 2017. 
  • The Henry Ford Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Award, 2017.
  • International Space Station (ISS Above) Winner from the photo contest. 2017 by First the Seed Foundation and Tomatosphere program NASA. 
  • Nominee by Nova Southeastern University Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award by Abraham S. Fischler College of Education. 
  • Nominee to Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) 2017.
  • Teacher of the Month by PITSCO Education for January 2016.
  • Una Maestra Especial by Univision 23 Broadcasting Television Network, spring  2015. 
  • State and National Featured Teacher of the Month by LEGO Education, November 2014.

How long have you been a CAP AEM?

Since 2014.

How did you get involved in the Civil Air Patrol AEM program?

During a Space Foundation Symposium in Colorado Springs.

Why do you teach in the Aerospace Education/STEM area?

Topics in aerospace motivate students in a very particular way, especially when hands-on activities are applied as teaching strategies.

What do you and/or your students like about Civil Air Patrol program/materials?

The materials and easy lessons for young children can be adapted easily to our curriculum. Hands-on activities to use in the classroom become the favorite part for children. The STEM materials are very friendly to deliver in the classroom effectively

What is the best advice you have for a new AEM working with CAP programs and materials?

Commitment to participate in the program and to motivate students throughout CAP activities is the best advice for a new AEM. Teachers and students become enthusiastically engaged in the activities when they participate in CAP activities to the point that many get involved with the organization and its programs. Every year we present at the Miami Dade Teachers Conference, where we invite teachers to participate in the program. We bring teachers the advantages of being an AEM by showing them the books and materials used with students. Also, we coordinate with CAP officers for support on explaining the benefits of becoming CAP members.

Please tell an anecdote of a rewarding experience working with students using CAP programs.

During August 2014 I participated in CAP's Teacher Orientation Program (TOP) Flight,  where I read a children’s story while flying over Miami. We used the video over and over in my classroom to explain the difference between fiction and non-fiction. My students got very excited to see me in the small Cessna reading the story. It did really inspire students to dream big about aerospace and space science education. Now, I have two students who plan to become pilots, and they continue to be involved in STEM programs in middle school. This TOP Flight program is one of the best tools that CAP offers to educators.  You can see a story on the flight HERE.


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