Kaci Heins is a 6th grade Science teacher at Northland Preparatory Academy. Kaci takes her students through the hands on exploration of measurements, scientific methods, energy, water cycle, weather, atmosphere, plants, and the human body.
An example of her outstanding approach to education occurred in 2013. Kaci was successful in her effort to place a student experiment aboard the International Space Station as part of the highly competitive Student Spaceflight Experiments Program( SSEP). This program replicates the entire process of a real scientific investigation from peer-reviewed proposals to execution of a sophisticated, launch-ready experiment. Almost the entire student body at NPA participated, culminating in the successful team’s experiment flying to ISS and the school having a large poster session where all the proposals were on display. It was an outstanding experience for every kid involved. A description and picture of the winning team can be found here.
Kaci has also taken the initiative, assisted by Bruce Sidlinger, of flying an ongoing series of balloon experiments that give students the chance to participate in real-world aeronautics, sending the balloons up to 100,000’ or more from the Flagstaff airport, tracking their descent, and making recoveries in remote areas, and then analyzing the atmospheric data recovered from the instrument payload.
These are just two examples of exceptional initiatives that have become the staple of Kaci’s approach. She is constantly finding ways to engage students in learning that are rigorous and smart while being fun and engaging. She has deservedly won a variety of state and national prizes for her many efforts. Recently she won the Southeast Missouri State University Young Alumni Award 2015, the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Educator Achievement Award 2015, Flagstaff STEM City Teacher of the Year 2014, Air Force Association National Aerospace Teacher of the Year Award 2014, Air Force Association Arizona Teacher of the Year Award 2014, Air Force Association Prescott Chapter Teacher of the Year Award 2014, and a Finalist for Superbowl STEM Superhero Teacher of the Year 2014.
Kaci is also an exceptional team player, collaborating broadly with other educators in Flagstaff and regularly taking advantage of training and mentoring opportunities for others. She is truly committed to spreading her energy and ideas for the benefit of educators across the country.