Kids in a Network Learning Science, Geography, GIS, Computational Thinking and all of that Jazz ..it worked!!

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Many people embrace what is called STEM at this time. There was SMET before there was STEM.

There was a time when science was pushed aside and people who dared to advocate it were not in the right political space. We suffered but continued the practice of good teaching.

We had our champions, and one of them was Dr. Robert Tinker of Concord.org who got great funding for a number of revolutionary programs and projects and many of them were for K -12.

His projects were much needed to change teaching and learning .

More alphabet soup.

You may ask what is TERC?

For more than fifty years, TERC  introduced millions of students throughout the United States to the exciting and rewarding worlds of math and science learning. Led by a group of experienced, forward-thinking math and science professionals, TERC is an independent, research-based organization dedicated to engaging and inspiring all students through stimulating curricula and programs designed to develop the knowledge and skills they need to ask questions, solve problems, and expand their opportunities.

 

What is really important is that there was extensive broadening engagement and the vision that TERC and Robert Tinker had was an immersive imagining of a future in which learners from diverse communities engaged in creative, rigorous, and reflective inquiry as an integral part of their lives—a future where teachers and students alike are members of vibrant communities where questioning, problem solving, and experimentation are commonplace.

This ideational scaffolding worked.

One of the projects was the NGS Kids Network , standards-based, online science curriculum that allowed students from around the world to investigate topics and share their findings.

Students explored real-world subjects by doing exactly what scientists do: conducting experiments, analyzing data, and sharing results with peers.

You will remember the climate march and the scientists march. With Bob Tinker we marched with our fingers and minds exploring real world science and the ideas are still being used and referenced.

There are pieces of this work that are still relevant. There was an extensive set of resources for teachers at each topic.

You can explore the Unit TRASH here.

You can explore the topic “What’s in Our Water?” here.

Here is the background for water. 

You can explore SOLAR ENERGY here. It has been updated.

HISTORY

A National Geographic Summer Institute was where Concord.org was introduced to me. I believe I met Dr. Tinker however, at the NSTA conference. or at the George Lucas Educational Foundation in a round table discussion.  There we learned about probes. The way we worked was revolutionary in science , and we true pioneers got some push back. We had Dr. Tinker as a resource and the information was free. The promise of the Internet for all has never happened , but if you could get on the Information Highway, well, Concord was there for you.

 

 

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If you ever taught a National Geographic Kidsnetwork Program and did it well ,you know that it changed the face of teaching and learning. Here is a research report that explains the way in which it worked.

The National Geographic Kids Network

REFERENCE: TERC. (1990). The National Geographic Kids Network: Year 4 Final Annual Report. Cambridge, MA: Author.

In conjunction with the National Geographic Society, TERC created The National Geographic Kids Network as a resource for improving elementary science and geography instruction in classrooms around the world. Since its inception in 1986, more than a quarter of a million students in over 7,500 classrooms had then used the network to collaborate on science and geography projects ranging from the study of solar energy to acid rain.( old data)

The primary goal of the National Geographic Kids Network was to promote science and discovery in elementary classrooms by combining hands-on science, geography, and computer technologies with telecommunications activities.

GIS 1The topics were the beginning of real science study for many students.


The National Geographic Kids Network includes seven 8-week curriculum units focusing on “increasing the time spent on inquiry-oriented, hands-on science instruction, strengthening science process and data analysis skills, raising public awareness of the value and feasibility of appropriate science instruction, and publishing and widely disseminating curricular materials that further these goals.” While students research, collect, analyze, and share data with their peers they also problem solve and collaborate with students at other schools. In addition, the network also features a scientist who works with students electronically to evaluate their data, make comments, and offer suggestions. The seven 8-week units include:

  • Hello!  This was a special introductory unit that let us learn how to use project based learning and collaborate with other classes.
  • Solar Energy
  • Acid Rain
  • What Are We Eating?
  • What’s in Our Water?
  • Too Much Trash?
  • Weather in Action

The beginning unit was very special.

Students and teachers and community collaborated and shared , giving information, history, geography and data about where they lived. They got mail. This was a personalized way  , it was a pre-social media of talking with and learning with students in other parts of the world.

How excited my students were to link with a school in Moscow, Russia, or to figure out what animals were pets in some places of the world that we considered pests.

 

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For those of us who used the units , the task of classroom management was quite different from that faced by teachers employing the traditional instructional methods of lecture, discussion, and seat work. Geography was a huge factor in the work. Sometimes there was application of the arts, and yes, there was purposeful reading and writing. The face of the working classroom was changed. Extensive resources were shared with teachers.

Students were involved in an inquiry process and reported back to a scientist who helped them analyze their data . There were geographical teams of students sharing information , and collecting data and sometimes telling their stories. I was a teacher of the Gifted, but I was able to use technology to transition into being a classroom teacher for all. Parents and community members were excited about meaningful  uses of technology.

With NGS Kidsnetwork, students spend the majority of their time working on their own or in small groups collecting and doing research.

Teachers often spend their time participating in projects as peers , with community interface of experts, parents helping with the data.

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StarStuff, StarWars, StarPupils

A friend recently posted a picture of her boy, reading. He was invited by the movie “Star Wars” to read. I loved it seeing that science fiction, the story, has become of interest to students. The Challenger Center , NASA and The Planetary Society have resources to share.

I would start using the Star Wars coding. This is the link, with choices of language and maybe later a bunch of video films. It is fun to build your own game.

The Challenger Center is located in various geographical areas. The curriculum is awesome. I like to teach the curriculum pieces that feature Mars. The movie, The Martian is of interest too, to build on interest. In case you have not seen it , this is a quick synopsis.

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission. It’s a story.

Build your own Moon

An online game that allows players to build their own moon and sculpt its features has won big praise in science art competition.

The game, called “Selene: A Lunar Construction GaME,” measures how and when players learn as they discover more about how the Earth’s moon formed and, by extension, the solar system. It received an honorable mention in the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, the journal Science announced today (Jan. 31).

As players experiment with the game, they learn more about one of the easiest heavenly bodies they can study, Selene developers said.

Here is the game.

http://selene.cet.edu/default.aspx?page=Selene

Group Activities?

As the students explores there are these other sets of information. The Mars Survival Kit 

The kit is for lower grades, …and then there is Marsville . This was so fascinating , a principal who was not in love with hands on science, .. could not resist and joined us in exploring building Marsville. What is Marsville?

Marsville (Grades 5-6) challenges students to create a colony of habitats as they prepare for a simulated mission to Mars.  Academic content including mathematics, science, engineering, communication and the arts is incorporated into a series of individual and group activities as students work through a series of tasks to solve specific biological and social problems in order to design life support systems.

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A Marsville Village.

This is project based learning. You can add it as a special activity to your curriculum.I like the innovation , the problem solving and the building of habitats. I taught it as a Gifted and Talented unit, but the students decided to share it with the neighborhood. It is a fun  learning activity.315827867_432c1f761b_o

During Marsville Link-Up Day, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are emphasized during the final culminating activity where students physically create their Marsville Habitat.  The crews convene at “Mars” (hosting NJ colleges and/or schools) wearing their uniforms and packing lunches according to specific guidelines.  Teams work within their habitat to cooperatively erect their “bubble” which is made of construction plastic and duct tape and inflated by the air pressure from a floor fan.  Team members share their life systems with other team members within their habitat along with solutions to a crisis to their colony and then, complete a Celestial Questial traveling to other habitats to learn how those life systems operate.  Finally, the teams end the day completing their mission logs and receiving “Astronaut-Candidate” certificates of recognition for their efforts.

If this seems too daunting to you , and you just want to please and have an individual student learn. You can have a student construct a moon habitat.

If you never studied space science education, you can start with students here.

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Mars City Alpha is a upper grade event that is great to do, if you have a class to do it with.

 

Ways to Integrate The Topic Of Mars In Your Classroom ( from NASA)

Use a Mars Mission as a Current Event
Typically, the information sources for current events are printed materials, television, radio, and the Web. Occasionally, teachers are able to schedule presentations by people familiar with or involved in an event, and sometimes students can conduct interviews with such people. Formats to share information include bulletin boards, oral reports, student reports, and current event notebooks. Each of these methods involves students in different ways and at different levels of intensity. Below are several ways the Pathfinder mission could be used in a current events context:

  • The mission’s data and images will be used for decades by scientists researching Mars. Check newspapers and magazines for articles on the science resulting from their work.
  • There is an enormous amount of information about the mission the Pathfinder Web site, everything from the people involved to the current weather conditions on Mars to the latest results based on Pathfinder data and images to the latest images themselves. The Web site will also link you to other sites related to the mission.
  • Shows about Mars air on television or radio, and NASA’s cable and satellite channel, NASA Select, has frequent updates about its various missions. Students can take notes on a show and prepare a report based on the information presented.
  • A bulletin board is a convenient way to organize and prominently display information. You might organize a bulletin board by topics such as:
Mars Pathfinder
Life on Mars
Robotics
Mars Global Surveyor
Water on Mars
Questions About Mars
Other Space Missions
Human Missions to Mars
Future Missions to Mars

 

SOURCE: http://mars.nasa.gov/education/modules/webpages/integrationideas.htm

 

I have done all of these things.So can you!!

I was a Challenger Center Teacher.

My last visit was to the Manea Kea Visitor Center.

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About Being the Best Teacher You Can Be…. Choose NASA .. the educational resources are great! You will leave dullness behind!!

5206_137672091326_268879_nI love teaching.

How can you fulfill this ? I am a Challenger Center Fellow and a Christa McAuliffe Educator. I went to minority schools. I did not have science in the elementary school. But I had NASA. Courses and workshops. So wonderful.

There are people who have given me immense gifts in the way of mentoring.NASA gave me the universe and project based learning  and the ideas about ecology. I loved learning and helping teachers to learn within the educational groups of NASA. The learning started with projects and went on to large and interesting project based learning, some of these are old, Moon Base America, The Challenger Center Initiative and the online NASA resources. I loved most the programs on Mars. I also use museums to teach with. They have a bigger budget than I have.

What an investment in teachers! You can find resources here. http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/index.html If you ever do any of the projects and are truly interested, there is much, much more and it is not at costs.


The Challenger Center is a little different but the project based learning is outstanding. You need not go to the Challenger Center, but it would be for kids, a life changing experience. There are lots of teachers who have been prohibited from this type of learning called project based learning  because it is not regurgitative test measured information. Project based learning? I loved wearing an astronaut suit and sharing information with students. I felt as if I was sharing , teaching and giving information to the children that was awesome. Here are some teacher resources. Now there is a different way of being involved.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education offers dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities to students around the world. These programs equip students with the knowledge, confidence, and skills that will help better our national social and economic well-being. But the center also offers courses and learning experiences for teachers. There is support and there are resources. There is a cost to some programs.

Our <a href="/teacher_resources/nitrogen_main.html">Traveling Nitrogen Game</a> makes a fun activity for students to learn about the <a href="/earth/Life/nitrogen_cycle.html">nitrogen cycle</a>.  The activity includes a student worksheet ("Traveling Nitrogen Passport"), 11 reservoir signs, and stamps.  The activity is available in our <a href="/php/teacher_resources/activity.php#8">Classroom Activities section</a>, including a free html version, and a pdf version free for  <a href="/new_membership_services.html">Windows to the Universe subscribers</a>.  The Traveling Nitrogen Game Kit is available in our <a href="/store/home.php">online store</a>, including laminated signs and a set of 11 dice.<p><small><em></em></small></p>

A unique and proven teaching model – Challenger Learning Centers – gives students the chance to become astronauts and engineers and solve real-world problems as they share the thrill of discovery on missions through the Solar System. Using space simulation and role-playing strategies, students bring their classroom studies to life and cultivate the skills needed for future success. Learning Centers reach into communities around the globe, engaging more than 400,000 middle school-age students and 40,000 educators each year.

Challenger Center’s teaching model is an effective approach to strengthen knowledge and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The McLain 2011 report examined two decades of evaluations from students who experienced a Challenger Learning Center mission, and the findings indicate overall positive gains by students. The study also recognized the psychological nature of career-choice, decision-making embedded in Challenger Center’s model. It found the hands-on simulation experiences are important contributors to that process, perhaps more than any other single experience that might be remembered as extraordinary in a young person’s exposure to STEM. In some cases it is a hard sell to the administrators. They often do not understand this kind of project or are worried about NCLB stats and so well, you are not allowed to do this project based learning. Not on the test they say. In this project you develop sophisticated knowledge that the general public may not know.

We in a 5th grade classroom, knew about the Horsehead Nebulae before the public saw it months later. It helps to talk to astronauts and scientist who care about their subjects.Horsehead Nebula

An assortment of containers and science equipment on a table
The STS-118 crew transported plant growth chambers, seeds and watering devices like these to the space station for an in-orbit experiment.

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With these kinds of experiences, the imagination of children and critical thinking skills are challenged. It is not just the technology, it is the creation of the learning landscape to enhance learning.

It enhances discovery through simulation and exploration of new concepts

Explore this NASA program it is free.. and excellent..

Artists concept of 2 people sitting in a spacecraft on Mars

We connect individuals to new people and ideas and expand content beyond what was previously available.

It promotes equity by providing a diverse array of resources and experiences to those who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

It allows teachers to adapt to and to accommodate different learning styles through modularized , self -paced , just in time learning and non threatening learning

I was challenged to learn new science to be able to teach it well. It was supported with great curriculum and posters and resources.There is also this website

Windows to the Universe  What is different about this web site is that it is on three different levels and it is rich in resources.

If your principal will not let you teach during the school day. Do this.. it is fun!!!

Vic and I took this course, it is great!
Cut a pound cake in half, and what do you have? It is still pound cake, but in two pieces instead of one. What if you keep slicing and dicing the pound cake all the way down to single crumbs? No matter how many times the pound cake is cut, it’s still pound cake.

Three training participants look at materials about the solar systemAfterschool Universe training sessions are offered throughout the year at locations across the United States. Image Credit: NASA

What does pound cake have to do with the universe? Just like the chemical elements that are the building blocks for all the matter in the universe, pound cake retains its identity no matter how many times it’s divided. Pound cake also plays a key role in an activity that’s part of Afterschool Universe, a NASA-sponsored astronomy program for middle school students.

Afterschool Universe is targeted for settings outside the normal school day. The program consists of 12 standalone sessions in which students explore basic astronomy concepts.

“We saw a need for the program because existing astronomy education materials covering such topics were mostly aimed at high school students. Middle school students were fascinated by these concepts but had few options to learn more about them,” said Anita Krishnamurthi, the program’s project lead. “There’s a great potential to engage students and adults in astronomy in the afterschool setting.”

Each session usually begins with a brief introductory discussion facilitated by the program leader, followed by a hands-on activity in which students participate individually or in groups. A session typically runs about 45-60 minutes and culminates with a wrap-up discussion focusing on what was learned through the activity.

In most cases, program leaders must undergo training before they can run the program or train others to do so. Information sessions and training workshops are offered at various locations across the country, including at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Four training participants look at a light through cardboard tubesHands-on activities play a role in each of the 12 Afterschool Universe sessions. Image Credit: NASA

Upon completion of training, program leaders receive a NASA certificate, a comprehensive program manual, downloadable files, worksheets and evaluation forms, posters, and a kit of materials that are only available from specialized suppliers. Program leaders are responsible for obtaining the basic materials needed to implement the program. NASA encourages leaders to partner with a local scientist.

The manual provides background information and detailed descriptions of how to conduct each session, including listings of objectives, concepts addressed and materials needed. No activities require use of a computer, though the manual gives suggestions for optional Web-based activities.

Afterschool Universe, funded entirely by several grants for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate including the Chandra Mission, was developed by the education and public outreach team in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Related Resources
Afterschool Universe   → 
Beyond Einstein   → 
Imagine the Universe   → 

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