Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 18, 1996

On Centers:
Kids To Snap Images in Space for Classroom Studies

Christine Rowett


Homewood News and Information

     Education experts from the Institute for the Academic

Advancement of Youth's California office will see their ideas

soar to new heights when the space shuttle Atlantis is launched

March 21 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.      

     During the KidSat space project, middle school students will

operate still cameras mounted 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 collegiate

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. 

     Elizabeth Jones Stork, director of IAAY's western regional

office, said the institute got involved after observing high

school students react to exploring and interpreting images of

earth from space. 

     "We're forwarding one of the philosophies of IAAY, which is

the theory of optimal match: learning occurs through group and

individual activities that are designed to match the student

level and pace of learning," Stork said. "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 also 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 and

technology. 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.

     "This will really help us to see what students have learned

and what they may be missing," Jones said.

     The public may access the KidSat homepage at


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