Designing a successful launch device lands Adams State graduate student in Houston


Article by Linda Relyea

Sam Preis, Matt Preis, Ben Koser, and Eric Koser; front row, Morgan Brooks and Emily Dauk at NASA Johnson space center

Photo courtesy of Emily Dauk
Emily Dauk, far left, with students, left to right, Sam Preis, Matt Preis, Ben Koser, Eric Koser, Morgan Brooks and Emily Dauk at NASA.

Emily Dauk is a high school math teacher in Minnesota who is working toward a master's degree through the Adams State Endeavor STEM Leadership Certificate program, a partnership with NASA and the ASU Teacher Education Department.

Dauk challenged her Mankato, Minn. students to build a mechanism that could launch a mock satellite. Led by Dauk and her colleague, Eric Koser, the students achieved success and the Kato Launch Squad was invited to NASA's Johnson Space Center in March to demonstrate their experimental device.

"My students and I had the opportunity to participate in NASA's Microgravity University for Educators at Johnson Space Center," Dauk said. Last fall she worked with a group of students and teachers from her district in Minnesota to submit a project proposal and were one of 10 teams selected from across the nation to participate.

The project was a full integration of all STEM disciplines as students had to design and build a Satellite Launching Experimental Device. "Students also developed a public outreach plan so we could share the experience with as many people as possible," Dauk said. The culmination of the project was four students and two teachers from the team, including Dauk, who spent a week at Johnson Space Center testing their device, touring the NASA facilities, and learning directly from NASA experts.

When considering a master's program, the STEM Leadership Certificate joint program seemed the best fit for Dauk. "I did a lot of searching for a program with a connection to high school math that would also allow me to continue to teach full time and to continue being a part of the extracurricular activities I was involved in at my school. The most important requirement of any master's program was that it would help me become a better math teacher."

Two areas emphasized within Dauk's Master of Arts program include STEM integration and connecting with students and community. "This project was a combination of each of those. Each of the STEM disciplines was required as the team designed, built, and tested their device. In addition, we were also required to develop an outreach plan about how we would share this experience with the community. As we developed this plan we examined which modes of communication would be the best to reach our students and community members. We also looked at which events we could put on after our week at Johnson Space Center that would engage our community. It was very neat to see multiple components of my ASU coursework come together within a single project."

Dauk enrolled in the Adams State program in the fall of 2017 and will complete her degree in the spring of 2019. "I have very much enjoyed the flexibility of the program. It is not easy to complete a master's degree while also teaching full time, but the online program that Adams State provides makes it possible."

While in Houston, the students and teachers from Mankato visited the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility as astronauts showcased their training.