Teacher Uses NES Resources to Stimulate Career Interest

Cindy Dwyer, NASA Explorer Schools teacher with Sayville Public Schools, used NASA educational materials to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers in her gifted student program. Cindy says, “I teach a gifted student enrichment program in the three elementary schools in my school district. We used the Field Trip to the Moon curriculum from NASA. We also used Google Earth’s moon interface to view photos of the landing sites mentioned in the Navigation team kit and photos from the LCROSS mission. My students find NASA missions fascinating and displayed active engagement throughout this project.”

The school received attention when the project was featured on a local news station. Students were interviewed on their specific roles in the lunar activity.

Read details of Cindy’s experience in NEON. Register, log in, join the NASA Explorer Schools group, and find the On the Moon Educator Guide: On Target forum. The complete story is available there, as well as other educators’ experiences with the On Target activity.

The featured lesson, On Target from On the Moon Educator Guide, may be found in the Teaching Materials section of the NES Virtual Campus.

NES Recognition Opportunity Sparks Idea for Classroom Activity

Research Vessel
NASA Explorer Schools educator Cheryl May, a teacher from Lebanon Middle School, created a great activity called Tracing the Toxins after attending last year’s NES Coastal Observation recognition opportunity. The goal of the activity is for students to understand the difference between toxic and harmful algal blooms. They determine the effects of phytoplankton on the aquatic food webs and learn how NASA monitors algae.

You may become eligible for this research experience by using and reporting on your use of the following: one classroom content module, one NASA Now, and one e-PD. Find out more by logging into the NES Virtual Campus and following the link called Recognition Opportunities. 

You will find a link to this exciting activity in NEON. Register, log in, join the NES group, and navigate to other NASA-related activities and look for the Tracing the Toxins forum.

Space Station Experiments Proposed by Two NES Schools Selected for the Kids in Micro-g! Challenge

Key Peninsula Middle School and Potlatch Elementary School have experiments that were selected to be conducted this spring in the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station. Both schools are participating in the NASA Explorer Schools project.

Key Peninsula Middle School in Lakebay, Wash., proposed an experiment, “Pondering the Pendulum.” Their experiment will examine the effects of microgravity on a pendulum.

Potlatch Elementary in Potlatch, Idaho, will be testing, “Pepper Oil Surprise.” It’s an experiment to determine if the buoyancy of an object is affected in a microgravity environment.

This activity reinforces the use of technology to facilitate student collaboration in the use of NES materials and NASA opportunities. These teachers are well on their way to earning NES recognition.

Click here for information about the NES Recognition Opportunities.

Click here for information about the Kids in Micro-g! challenge.

Modification for the Fingerprints of Life-It's Just Right Module

Microscopic view of budding Baker's YeastHere is a modified activity from Fingerprints of Life, “It’s Just Right” module. Invite your students to discuss what is meant by an extremophile and extreme environment. In this activity, students design and implement an experiment to test the extremes at which Saccharomyces cerevisiae, one-celled organisms commonly known as baker’s yeast, can metabolize, as measured by the production of carbon dioxide. The students work in groups to test the limits of salinity.

Report your student’s results on the NASA Educators Online Network, or NEON.

The complete write-up of this activity is available in NEON. Register, log in, join the NASA Explorer Schools group and find the Fingerprints of Life: Extremophiles: “It’s Just Right” forum.

Is It Alive? An Idea from NASA Explorer Schools Professional Development

Colleen Orman, a NASA Explorer Schools teacher at Oceanair Elementary, attended a recent Fingerprints of Life e-professional development session. She used one of the additional resources suggested during the live Web seminar, a lesson called “Is It Alive?”
Oceanair Elementary School
Her students tested soil samples representing soil from a site on Mars. They investigated ways to determine which soil samples had life forms. After coming up with parameters to judge what would be considered living organisms, students observed each sample and recorded their observations.

Read more about Colleen’s experiences with this activity in the NASA Explorer Schools Fingerprints of Life: Extremophiles forum in NEON. The complete write-up on this activity is available in that forum.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Family Night: Involve Parents in Student Projects

NASA Explorer Schools educator Colleen Orman from Norfolk Public Schools has some ideas for ways to kick off science fair projects by incorporating the investigation process during the school’s family nights sessions.

Parents and students were guided through the complete experimental design process in a hands-on manner. Students created a straw hoop plane and tested to see if the placement of the hoops affected the distance the plane would fly. Besides having a great deal of fun, both parents and students learned about the steps to create a successful science fair investigation.

The activity was an investigational process, which reinforces NES materials. She has used various flight-related investigations to support previous family night events. 

Orman continues to focus on flight activities to enhance her program’s NASA connection. She says, “Our parents appreciate learning about investigations so they can help their children.”

What a great way to involve parents in their student’s learning! Colleen has logged this entry in the Virtual Campus and is now one step closer to participating in the NES Recognition Program!

Add a Mathematics Component to On Target

Cover: On the Moon educator guideOne of the challenges in education is to modify an activity to address objectives in multiple subject areas, challenging students to use skills from different subject areas to solve a problem. NASA Explorer Schools educator Chris Deleon at Hudson Middle School added a twist to the On Target content module that reached beyond the fundamental standards the activity covers.

Read how Chris incorporated a mathematics component into the NES module On Target to give his students a better sense of what it would be like to work for NASA and solve a very complicated problem. 

Chris’ modification is documented in the On the Moon Educator Guide: On Target forum in NEON.

NASA STEM Educators Workshop, March 1-3

Educators are invited to register for 2-3 days of free workshop training and earn 12 to 18 hours toward continuing education units.

The Embrace the Challenge to Innovate workshop explores engineering design challenges, problem-based learning activities, distance-learning modules, inquiry-based lessons and hands-on projects.

The workshop takes place from March 1-3, 2011, at Whitewater Middle School in Charlotte, N.C.

Click here for additional details and registration information.

Document Your Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Investigation With a Stop-Action Camera

PlantCamWouldn’t it be great to have a stop-action camera that could document the growth of your students’ plants in the NASA Explorer Schools module, Lunar Plant Growth Chamber? What might be other possible classroom uses for such a camera?

Head over to a blog by the National Science Teachers Association, a NES partner, and read about innovative ways to use a stop-action camera in the classroom. There’s even a link to an opportunity to win a BirdCam or PlantCam. The deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2011.

Hobgood Students Walk to the Moon

Sixth-grade mathematics and science teacher and NASA Explorer Schools educator Chick Knitter and the staff of Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., have developed a unique and exciting challenge for their 400 students — walk to the moon!

The students’ challenge is to walk 235,000 miles collectively, the distance from Earth to the moon. The staff tallies all students’ laps around the school’s quarter-mile track. To “get to the moon,” students will need to complete one million laps. The updates on miles are given weekly on the school’s TV webcast as well as a monthly “Moon Fact.”

The school had a kick-off for the Walk to the Moon Challenge this fall with Dr. Rhea Seddon. She is a former astronaut who lives in the area and is serving as the Grand Marshall. They hope to finish with the challenge by the end of the school year but will continue until they reach their “lofty” goal. Seddon plans to return to the school when the challenge is near completion and walk the last mile for the school as part of the closing ceremony. 

This challenge encourages students to stay healthy as well as learn about NASA, space and reaching their goals. What a great idea!