Midvale mayor Robert Hale chuckled when Hillcrest High teacher Clief Castleton entered the City Council’s Tuesday, March 16, 2021 online meeting with a space-themed Zoom background.
“Wonderful little icon,” Hale said of the out-of-this-world artwork that depicted a starry sky and a darkened Earth illuminated only by city lights and rays of sunshine peeking over the horizon. “It’s cute.”
Quite fitting, too, considering Castleton was part of the council’s agenda to be honored along with fellow Canyons educator Milo Maughan with an official proclamation in recognition of their recent selection as NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors.
The Draper City Council on Tuesday, March 16 presented the pair with a similar proclamation.
Corner Canyon High’s Maughan remotely attended that livestreamed meeting and was congratulated by Draper Mayor Troy Walker for being among just 30 teachers nationwide to receive an invitation to attend the elite astrophysics teacher-training program.
The highlight of their weeklong experience will be a flight into the stratosphere on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The high-soaring plane is equipped with a reflecting telescope that can be used to detect light sources from the depths of space.
Castleton and Maughan are the only Utah teachers in this year’s group, which was announced in February by the SETI Institute. SETI houses the NASA-funded ambassador program, which was created to increase U.S. student interest and achievement in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.
“Milo, that’s going to be very cool,” Walker said. “I can’t wait to see your photos and hear about it.”
The weeklong training session and stratospheric flight are scheduled to happen this fall.
“There is no doubt that by providing this opportunity to your students, not only this year but in years to come, it will be a catalyst for many of them to look with a different eyesight to the skies and to light and to physics and all sciences within the STEM program,” Hale said after reading Midvale’s proclamation. “And it will be a better future for all of us because of this little (opportunity) that you took advantage of — you and Mr. Maughan.”
Both educators said they’re anticipating being able to bring back knowledge from their journey, valuable NASA contacts and space-age equipment that will allow them to give students at Hillcrest and Corner Canyon a unique educational experience.
“This program is going to be an incredible tool to be able to engage students and get them to see that NASA isn’t just for California, Florida and Texas,” Castleton said. “They can actually look for these types of experiences here in Utah as well.”
Added Maughan, “To be able to bring that experience back into my classroom and relay that to my students is going to enhance the teaching about infrared astronomy and electronic science. I’m so excited to be able to represent Draper and the Canyons District.”
WHEREAS, teachers touch the future as they inspire the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, engineers, and community leaders;
WHEREAS, Mr. Milo Maughan and Mr. Clief Castleton, who teach at Corner Canyon and Hillcrest High Schools, respectively, are fiercely committed to ensuring the college- and career-readiness of their students;
WHEREAS, Mr. Maughan and Mr. Castleton are Canyons District educators of the highest caliber in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM);
WHEREAS, the NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) program, which was created to increase student interest and engagement in STEM-related fields, has selected Mr. Maughan and Mr. Castleton to be a part of an elite group of only 30 educators across the United States to receive specialized training, educational equipment, and curriculum in astrophysics and planetary science;
WHEREAS, the teachers are chosen for the 2021 AAA weeklong immersion program also are invited to take a flight into the stratosphere on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), known as the world’s largest flying observatory;
WHEREAS, upon their return, Mr. Maughan and Mr. Castleton, the only Utah teachers to be chosen as 2021 ambassadors, will bring STEM classrooms to life with lessons created from their unique experiences with the prestigious AAA program;
WHEREAS, the students in our community will uniquely benefit from Mr. Maughan’s and Mr. Castleton’s journeys to study alongside renowned scientists using some of the world’s greatest technological tools to investigate the depths of space;
THEREFORE, I Troy Walker, Mayor of Draper City, proclaim the City’s utmost appreciation and recognition to Mr. Milo Maughan and Mr. Clief Castleton for their dedication to providing our community’s children with a stellar level of hands-on and personalized instruction that cannot be replicated with book study alone.
WHEREAS, educators inspire the next generation and make it possible for students to realize their potential; and
WHEREAS, NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) is a professional development program for science teachers designed to improve science teaching and
increase student learning and STEM engagement; and
WHEREAS, the innovative AAA program brings NASA subject matter experts, research findings, and educational resources into science classrooms across the country; and
WHEREAS, thirty teachers from 10 states have been selected to participate in the NASA-funded AAA program; and
WHEREAS, AAA teachers receive training in astrophysics and planetary science, including a week-long STEM immersion experience at a NASA astronomy research facility such as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA); and
WHEREAS, these teachers will use their professional development and SOFIA experiences to convey real-world content to their students that illuminate the value of scientific research and the wide variety of STEM career paths available to them; and
WHEREAS, Canyons School District educators, Mr. Clief Castleton from Hillcrest High School and Mr. Milo Maughan from Corner Canyon High School have been chosen as 2021 NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors; and
WHEREAS, the sole Utah teachers to be selected to attend the prestigious astrophysics teacher-training program that includes a flight into the stratosphere on a jumbo jet carrying a massive reflecting telescope used to detect light sources from the depths of space.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert Hale, Mayor of Midvale City, hereby present this Proclamation to Clief Castleton and Milo Maughan for their dedication to cultivating students’ curiosity and interest in science.