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.

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.

Astronomy Night at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy

School's Star Party bannerOn the clear autumn night of Nov. 19, approximately 250 students and parents at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy, School #29, circulated among four activity stations relating to astronomy. The stations included telescope viewings of the moon, Jupiter and its moons, a virtual night sky tour in the planetarium, and two learning activity tables.
At the end of the evening, the night’s success was evident by the large number of parents and children who lingered, reluctant to leave. In fact, several parents asked when the next Astronomy Night is scheduled.

To learn more about how NASA Explorer Schools educator Tracy Espiritu and the teachers at the academy pulled off this successful astronomy night, read the Astronomy Night at School 29 post in the Ideas for family night events post in the ~Other NASA-related Activities I’ve Done forum in NEON.

Johnston Middle School's Space Explorer's Club

student asking question during a NASA downlinkAs a result of student interest generated by a recent NASA downlink at Johnston Middle School, NASA Explorer Schools educator Lanena Berry reports the school has instituted a Space Explorer’s Club. So far this year, club members have researched the SPHERES satellites on the International Space Station. Students have been introduced to NASA’s website and participated in the NES module, Engineering Design Challenge: Spacecraft Structures (must be logged into the NES Virtual Campus website).

Space Explorer’s Club members now are working with students from Prairie View A&M University to send a weather balloon up 60,000 to 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface to take pictures and atmospheric readings.

The focus of this club is on the research and technology needed to explore space.

Read more about Johnston’s Space Explorer’s Club and link to a video about the downlink at the school in the Other NASA Activities I’ve Done forum in NEON (requires username and password).