Whether escorting a group of students to Tanzania or promoting awareness of women’s roles in the space program, Dr. Octavia Tripp takes her students beyond the traditional classroom, encouraging them to reach for the stars. As associate professor in Elementary Education, Curriculum, and Teaching at Auburn University since 2002, Octavia is committed to helping her students understand the importance of using hands-on and minds-on activities to foster a love of learning for elementary level students. Effective teachers, she says, encourage students to problem solve, think critically, and promote inquiry and discovery.
For eleven years, Octavia served on a team of aerospace education specialists and as a program coordinator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Urban and Rural Community Enrichment Program in middle grades education. Although headquartered in Washington, D.C., Octavia has traveled throughout the United States to acquaint numerous education and civic communities with the role of NASA in the exploration of air and space. She is the co-author of the book African American Astronauts and numerous education articles.
A native of Macon, Octavia received her Bachelor of Science degree in middle grades education from Wesleyan and earned both her Master of Science and Doctorate in Education Studies in natural and applied sciences, with a concentration in aviation and space science, from Oklahoma State University. Prior to joining NASA, she taught science and reading in middle school classrooms and then moved on to higher education teaching at Howard University and Bowie State University.
Octavia has received many honors and awards for her passion, expertise, and leadership in science education. Among them, Outstanding Science Educator by the Board of Education, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Outstanding Teacher in Science Award in Puerto Rico; Sun Belt Writing Project Teacher; and one of the top 50 minority women in science by the national Technical Association. She has recently conducted presentations and talks in Belgium, China, Japan, and Greece. This summer, Octavia will travel to Cape Town, South Africa, to present a paper at the 11th International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations.