The NextGen programming focusses on students, educators, and everyone interested in inspiring today’s students to aspire to bring to fruition the vision of everyday people living, working, and thriving in communities beyond Earth.

In that mindset, NextGen can be said to have two audiences: Students and Adults. We have joined efforts to create programs centered around both audiences—referred to as “NextGen Alpha” for adults, educators, and those vested in our NextGen. For student attendees, many from NSS / NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest, we have crafted a new program called “NextGen TRACKS”: Thinking, Researching, Analyzing, Creative, Knowledgeable Students. Discover more about NextGen TRACKS here. 

For both NextGen Alpha and TRACKS, international presenters will address initiatives in STE(A)M education and outreach, citizen science, student competitions, 3D printing with BlocksCAD, High Altitudes Balloons, student CubeLabs, CubeSats and ISS experiments, the Makerspace/DIY movement, space-themed camps, the Global Learning X-Prize competition and much, much more is covered  in this future-spective track.

Co-Chair: Jason Branham, Professor, Law Student, and Lifelong Learner

Jason Branham’s background in Space Education came through serving three elected terms on the Board of Directors for The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, Missouri, holding various offices during his tenure. While at The Space Museum, he developed and implemented community-educational grant programs including NASA’s Summer of Innovation and Space Camp 2013.

Branham’s education began through atypical beginnings, completing Fire Fighter I&II training before his undergraduate work. While working as an educator, he completed his master’s degree at Southeast Missouri State University. Branham has taught at the university and community-college levels for nearly five years, sitting on and chairing many education and outreach committees throughout the journey.

A versed presenter at conferences in education, language, STEM, and Space, Branham presently teaches rhetoric / composition at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Additionally, Jason is a law student at the University of Memphis with interests in minority representation, Space law, and education law.

Branham enjoys work in bridging cross-cultural education gaps in America, focussing particularly on issues faced by minority races and sexual orientations. These interests have invited pedagogical presentations to professionals and students alike, addressing many issues of contemporary education, cultural neutrality, and fostering cross-cultural discourses.

Since 2015, Jason has been collaborating with St. Louis Space Frontier and the National Space Society to assemble and lead an education team to re-envision the program for students at ISDC. After overseeing and guiding the development of “NextGen TRACKS,” Jason is excited for he and his faculty to implement this revitialized program.

Dedicated to furthering 21st-century progress, Branham was ecstatic to be entrusted with the Education Chair’s position for ISDC 2017, one working with a group of bright innovators to design, foster, and drive the NextGen program at ISDC.

Contact Jason Branham at [email protected]

Co-Chair: Dr. David Thornburg, Founder and Director of Global Operations, Thornburg Center

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, 21
St century skills, and open source software has placed him in constant demand as a keynote speaker and workshop leader for schools, foundations, and governments.

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.

David splits his time between the United States and Brazil. His work in Brazil also is focused on education, and he has spoken at conferences and consulted for firms and educational institutions throughout that country.