Teacher Liaison Spotlight: Hakan Armağan

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Teacher Liaison Spotlight: Hakan Armağan Hakan Armağan isn't a typical high school teacher, or even a typical Space Foundation Teacher Liaison. In addition to being an extraordinary teacher, Armağan has completed three years in the U.S. Department of Energy's Academics Creating Teacher-Scientists program, he has a graduate degree in physics, he has developed a new class called Energy and Nuclear Science, and he inspires almost everyone he meets to go farther than they could ever imagine.

Each year, the Space Foundation selects a group of extraordinary educators to become Teacher Liaisons. These advocates for space-related education receive Space Foundation training and resources to further integrate space into their classrooms; and participate in workshops and education programs at the National Space Symposium. The program is in its sixth year and has 275 active participants.

As a Teacher Liaison, Armağan attended the Space Foundation's Space Across the Curriculum course on Space Technology in Colorado Springs last summer to help him create lesson plans that incorporate engineering and space into his current physics curriculum at Burke High School in Omaha, Neb. The week-long, intensive, graduate-level, in-residence Space Across the Curriculum courses provide PreK-12 educators with space-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education knowledge and content that is instantly transferable to the classroom.

Originally Armağan didn't aspire to be a teacher, but, while teaching in a graduate physics program, he discovered that he loved making connections with students. He recalled watching his mother, an elementary school teacher for 40 years, get to know her students and their families before she began teaching them. Armağan now teaches with a similar philosophy.

Armağan says this passion for learning pushes him to excel, while inspiring students to do the same. He discovered his love of physics in high school, but did not become interested in energy until he was student teaching. When he brought in the social context of energy use, it made his students more aware of the energy we all use every day. Armağan explains, "In one physics book, I saw a table of how much energy we use every year and how it is going up exponentially; eventually we will run out of our non-renewable resources - such as oil. This made me realize that I had to teach my students about both energy usage and different types of energy resources."

When asked to give some advice to teachers wanting to start a new course at their  schools, Armağan recommends concentrating on a topic for which they have passion, having something worthwhile to say, and connecting with their students to evaluate their interest in the topic. "If their responses are good, then you have a good shot starting a new course," he said.

"The Space Foundation is ecstatic to have such a wonderful teacher participating in the Teacher Liaison program," said Iain Probert, Space Foundation vice president - education. "Thanks to all of our Teacher Liaisons for what they do every day!"

Applications for the next flight of Teacher Liaisons are due Dec. 11. See related article in the issue of Space Watch or chlick here for details and an application.

For more information on the Space Foundation Education programs, visit

This article is part of Space Watch: December 2009 (Volume: 8, Issue: 12).