Educators to Use Space Technology in Daily Lessons
During the KidSat space project, middle school students will operate video and still cameras on board the shuttle to shoot images of the earth from space. IAAY staff members have spent 18 months developing curriculum and teaching methods for the project, which has introduced space technology and Internet applications to both students and teachers.
The mission of KidSat is to identify how middle schools can use images of the Earth in learning. Students will learn the technology of shooting, downloading and distributing the images while working in teams and with precollegiate and college students, engineers and scientists. The images will then be used as the basis for a variety of classroom studies, including lessons in history, geography, geology and physics.
More than two years ago, IAAY, the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California at San Diego formed a partnership to support the student project. JPL is preparing the flight and data systems for the program, while UCSD will run the mission control gateway, which links student mission operations centers at each participating school. IAAY is developing the curriculum for classroom instruction with the assistance of a core group of six teachers from five states.
Former astronaut Sally Ride, a physics professor at UCSD, is leading the development of the mission operations element of KidSat with NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and a team of undergraduate and graduate students.
"KidSat represents an investment in the nation's future, giving kids exposure to environmental studies from low-Earth orbit," Ride said. "By attaching KidSat to the space shuttle, students will be able to participate in space exploration as astronauts and cosmonauts do."
Using the cameras, students will photograph regions of the world they wish to study. Commands will be sent to the space shuttle through a mission control gateway at UCSD. Images and updates will be posted on the Internet.
"We're advancing one of the philosophies of IAAY, which is the theory of optimal match, that students learn through both group activities and individual learning," said Elizabeth Jones Stork, director of IAAY's western regional office. "Through KidSat, there is a tremendous amount of individual exploration and working together. The wonderful aspect is that once they have the basic knowledge, they can take it as far as they want to go."
Students will be able to call up images taken during the mission, as well as archived images. Using those, Stork said, students could track the geological evolution of a certain area. The images may also be used in art studies, she said.
"The images of ice, the ocean and the sun are wonderful images," Stork said. "They can be excellent lessons in art to teach properties of color and contrast."
Stork said one of the most significant aspects of IAAY involvement in the project is the teacher training it undertook in order to prepare educators to use the KidSat images. Teachers have been trained to use technology as a learning tool, and to diagnose students' learning abilities and needs. The theory is that once teachers become comfortable with that, they will incorporate technology in other areas of the curriculum, not just in KidSat-related studies, Stork said.
"The bigger picture is how technology can affect education," project coordinator Mark Jones said. "An effective teacher is one who is learning, changing and growing on a continuing basis."
More than 300 students are involved in the initial phase of KidSat, which will continue over the next two years. Three middle schools are participating in the initial phase of the program: Samuel Gompers Secondary School in San Diego, Buist Academy in Charleston, S.C., and the Washington Accelerated Learning Center in Pasadena, Calif. Over the next two years, additional schools from Omaha, Neb., Houston and Baltimore will join the project.
After the mission, which is scheduled to end with the March 30 landing of Atlantis, IAAY will continue to evaluate the program and its benefits to students and teachers.
The public may access the KidSat homepage at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/kidsat
The KidSat program is sponsored by NASA's Office of Human Resources and Education with support from the offices of Space Flight, Mission to Planet Earth and Space Science, Washington, D.C.
IAAY is an expanded organization that includes Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth and the new Center for Academic Advancement. In addition to academic programs and its talent search, the institute's agenda includes public policy, research, special program, entrepreneurial projects and Study of Exceptional Talent.
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