Space Foundation Trains Chicago-Area Teachers
The Space Foundation delivered a week of Space Across the Curriculum programming for teachers and students in the suburban Chicago Lyons Township Consortium in June. The Consortium includes: Hinsdale Community Consolidated School District 181, LaGrange Highlands School District 106, LaGrange School District 102, LaGrange School District 105 South, Lyons Elementary School District 103, Lyons Township High School District 204, and Western Springs District 101.
The intense week-long class, "Astronomy Principles for the Classroom: Kinesthetic Astronomy," featured space-related curriculum based on national standards and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) principles and was approved for graduate credit through Aurora (Ill.) University.
The Space Foundation delivered the program in a "two classrooms" concept for 23 students from grades 6-8 and 18 teachers. Teachers and students were taught similar content in rooms adjacent to each other and then brought together several times a day for key hands-on activities and design challenges. The teachers and students were also afforded the opportunity to collaborate on the integration of the lessons and activities of the week into the teachers' curriculum for the coming year.
Many of the activities centered around teaching about the orbits of the planets, cause of seasons, and phases of the Moon through kinesthetic movement. The teachers and students also engaged in design exercises such as the LCROSS design challenge and "Build a Satellite" activity. The groups also learned about constellations, astronomy resources and Web sites, stellar evolution, and exotic phenomena such as dark matter, dark energy, and black holes. Students and teachers from the same schools worked on a week-long project to construct 3-D models of specific constellations, identify the stars and locations of the stars within a constellation, and include the history and mythology of that constellation.
The week also featured a star party one evening, with participants and their families treated to popcorn, door prizes, a viewing of the movie "October Sky," and a star show in an inflatable planetarium.
The Space Foundation provided professional development in STEM education at Lyons Township High School District 204 in early 2009.
More about Space Foundation partnerships with school districts across the country and its Space Across the Curriculum programs can be found here.
See a related article on Space Foundation Space Across the Curriculum classes in this issue of Space Watch.
Pictured: Teachers and students participating in the Space Foundation astronomy class in Lyons Township, Ill., look through solar filtered telescopes to view sun spots.