By Jess Hawkins
Katie Moore is no stranger to getting out of her comfort zone.
During her time at Iowa, she took her first trip outside of the U.S. when she traveled to India for a Winterim program. She later studied abroad in Costa Rica over Spring Break. During the summer, she had a rare opportunity to intern at the NASA Langley Research Center.
Now a senior elementary education major, Moore credits the support that she has received from the College of Education for helping her pursue these opportunities.
Originally from Solon, Iowa, Moore was contemplating whether to study nursing or education when she met the former dean of the University of Iowa College of Education, Nicholas Colangelo, at a restaurant in her hometown. “When he heard that I was considering education, Dean Colangelo invited me to take a tour of the school and to meet with some students, and I just absolutely fell in love,” she says. “It felt so home-y here, and everyone was so welcoming.”
Moore has had no regrets and says she has relished the many opportunities that have come her way as a result of the decision.
During the summer of 2019, Moore was an intern at NASA Langley Research Center in the Office of STEM Engagement. She found out about this opportunity through her sister, a chemical engineer, who had interned at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center the summer prior to Moore.
During her time as an intern, she helped create supplemental lesson plans and was also involved in outreach programs that NASA hosted for students in the community.
“All NASA missions have to contain an educational component, which I never realized before I worked there,” says Moore. “That is what is used to educate the public and K-12 students about what NASA is working on.”
The summer experience has influenced the way Moore says she will teach in the future.
“The most valuable experience that I got was learning how to get students engaged in STEM activities because I know it can sometimes be daunting for students,” says Moore. “Getting the students hands-on experience is definitely something that I will use in my future classroom, which I am really excited about.”
Some activities that Moore presented to students at outreach events included UV Beads, that showed the effects of ultraviolet rays on skin and eyes, and virtual reality, where students could tour the International Space Station and various locations on Mars.
“I will definitely use virtual reality in my future classroom because students can go on a field trip without ever leaving the classroom,” says Moore.
One of Moore’s most memorable experiences was traveling to Washington D.C. with other NASA interns. “We got to see the administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstein, give a speech about his journey and how he got to where he is today, which was really cool,” she says.
Interning at NASA is just one of the many experiences that Moore has gained through her education at the UI College of Education.
In 2017, Moore traveled to India for the “Observational Learning in Educational Settings in India” Winterim Program. While there, Moore and her peers visited a Satya Special School where they observed how their school days and their education curriculum are structured.
“Traveling to India was my first ever international experience. It was absolutely amazing, so eye-opening,”
“Because this was my first international experience, one thing that really stood out to me was how different the lifestyle was in India compared to the United States,” says Moore.
“Being in India also made me realize that I will have students that come from all different cultures and backgrounds in my classroom, so knowing that about a student and understanding these things will be crucial in creating a safe and positive learning environment”.
“Living with a host family was really amazing because after spending the day at the school, we would go to San Jose and they would show me the areas that the locals actually went to,” says Moore. This included visiting the Universidad de Costa Rica where her host-mom went to school, and the National Theatre of Costa Rica. She also had the opportunity to try authentic Costa Rican food, like patacones, chifrijo, and her personal favorite, gallo pinto.
“The school was absolutely amazing. I definitely want to teach internationally after going there. I already knew that was something that I was interested in, but now I know that for sure,” she says. “I really want to go somewhere with a very different culture so I can learn more about myself and myself as a teacher and bring those experiences back to the U.S with me.”
Studying abroad in India and Costa Rica gave Moore experiences that she wants to bring to the classroom.
“In both India and Costa Rica, I learned a lot about the importance of culture and diversity and celebrating that in the classroom. Being knowledgeable about student backgrounds and their values are important aspects of being a good teacher,” she says.
Moore says that her time at the University of Iowa prepared her for both the professional and international experiences.
“All of my professors and peers in the College of Education have been more than happy and willing to support me through these experiences,” she says. “The coursework that I have taken here also prepared me well. I had just taken Science Methods 2 before my internship at NASA and that class really piqued my interest in our solar system, as well as climate science, and that knowledge and excitement really helped me out during my internship.”
Moore is grateful for the scholarship support she has received to make her experiences possible including receiving the following scholarships: Kathleen M. Ramsay and Family Scholarship, International Programs’ Programming and Outreach Fund Scholarship, the Howard K. and Mathilda Ihrke Memorial Fund Scholarship, and the Ann Morse Study Abroad Scholarship.
Moore, who graduates in May, looks forward to using the experiences that she has gained at the university in her future classroom. Though she would like to eventually teach in another country, with the current coronavirus pandemic, Moore is pursuing teaching opportunities closer to home in the Midwest. She was also selected to be the spring student speaker for the College of Education's virtual commencement ceremony.
Moore’s advice to other students is to get out of their comfort zones.
“Put yourself out there and just believe in yourself,” Moore says. “Take advantage of all the opportunities that are offered through the College of Education because they have truly changed my life.”