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Books and Briefings
School Leaders 

Programs and Scheduling

First, who are we exactly? 

The Thornburg Center for Space Exploration consists of highly-qualified workshop designers and leaders with tremendous depth of experience in inquiry-driven project-based learning. Depending on the size of the workshop group, you may get one, two, or three of us. The goal is not just to provide a day-long experience and provide some materials, but to foster a culture of professional development in which you maintain contact with us for as long as you want it. Our core team includes:

davidDavid Thornburg, PhD

David is the Founder and Director of Global Operations for the Thornburg Center. He is an award-winning futurist, author and consultant whose clients range across the public and private sector throughout the planet. His razor-sharp focus on the fast-paced world of modern computing and communication media, project-based learning, 21st Century skills, and open source software has placed him in constant demand as a keynote speaker and workshop leader for schools, foundations, and governments.

As a Child of the October Sky, David was strongly influenced by the early work in space exploration, and was the beneficiary of changes in the US educational system that promoted and developed interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. He now is engaged in helping a new generation of students and their teachers infuse these skills through the mechanism of inquiry-driven project-based learning.

His educational philosophy is based on the idea that students learn best when they are constructors of their own knowledge. He also believes that students who are taught in ways that honor their learning styles and dominant intelligences retain the native engagement with learning with which they entered school. A central theme of his work is that we must prepare students for their future, not for our past.

normaNorma Thornburg, MA
Norma is currently the director of emerging technologies for the Thornburg Center where she shares her insights on trends relating to tools that help students learn more effectively. She has been a classroom teacher, a principal, a technology coordinator, and an educational consultant. Her work brings her all over the world.

She has worked for years on projects where students designed and built computer-controlled robots that were programmed using the Logo language and is the author of the first books on Logo published in Brazil. Norma is a popular presenter at conferences where she can share her interests and expertise with educators.

Norma has many years experience working in the field of inquiry-driven project-based learning (PBL) and was the lead designer of a five-year PBL program that, at its peak, reached over 15,000 students throughout Brazil. She and David split their time between the US and Brazil doing similar work in both countries.

Norma's most recent work involved leading a major school redesign project (pre-K through middle grades) where everything from classroom layout to underlying school culture was transformed in support of the students and faculty.

saraSara Armstrong, PhD
Sara has been an educator for over 35 years—as a classroom teacher, principal, and professional developer. She is recognized for her dedication to project-based learning and the benefits that accrue to students and teachers through this practice, particularly in the elementary grades. She conducts workshops in developing effective projects across the country, and has also led workshops in Nairobi, Kenya, Gabarone, Botswana, and Monterrey, Mexico. She is a firm believer in meaningful assessment, and presents workshops on developing effective rubrics for all aspects of project work. Sara is also interested in the power of story and storytelling, and infuses it into her presentations and workshops. Her latest book, Information Literacy: Navigating and Evaluating Today’s Media (Shell Education, 2008), helps students and adults think critically about the deluge of daily information we all experience. Sara is a recipient of both the Gold and Platinum Disks from Computer-Using Educators.

Her recent work at the STEMstitutes in Indiana and her ongoing work with PBL Associates provided her with the opportunity to help transform daily practice among educators. She brings fresh insights to any project with which she is involved.

Second, a quick guide to our popular programs...

We provide a variety of ways to work with your school or district, depending on your size and specific needs.  Our activities can range anywhere from a one-hour STEM awareness presentations for faculty, parent groups, or the general public, to workshops (one or multi-day) for administrators, as well as our full curriculum staff development program for the teachers and staff developers in your school and/or district.  While our program will be tailored to your needs, our most popular speeches and workshops in the STEM and PBL areas are:

  • Theaters Without Audiences (one hour presentation)

Contact us for prices and available dates at your earliest opportunity.