Space Foundation to Present Space Discovery Institutes for Omaha Public Schools

Written by: developer

 The Space Foundation has signed a contract with Omaha Public Schools (OPS) for delivery of two weeks of Space Discovery Institute programming, beginning June 1. Funding is made possible through grants to Omaha Public Schools by the Omaha-based Sherwood Foundation, and by NASA Nebraska Space Grant and EPSCoR, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

The Space Foundation began offering Space Discovery Institute-type education programs in 1986 that grew into today’s program. The intense week-long programs, which feature space-related curriculum based on national standards and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) principles, are experiential, hands-on, and immediately transferable to the classroom. More about Space Discovery Institute programs can be found by at

In a unique delivery model requested by OPS, the Space Foundation will deliver the Institute in a new “Two Classrooms” concept for teachers and students; the program is usually held for only teachers. Students participating in the course will be high school students of the teachers participating. Both groups will be 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.

At the end of each day, students and teachers will write journal entries on the day’s events, enabling them to compare notes on how the curriculum and subject matter can be incorporated into the district's curriculum and their classrooms, electives, clubs, and schools. The students will have as much input as the teachers on how these ideas can find their way into their classrooms. The Space Foundation anticipates that this delivery model will result in a powerful new education product of interest to other schools around the country.

Week one of the Institute will focus on biological and physical research, studying long-term space travel and how the human body reacts to microgravity – including a microgravity pool simulation. The second week will focus on astronomy principles for the classroom, studying kinesthetic astronomy – including a trip to the Strategic Air and Space Museum and a star gazing party.

OPS and its partners are providing excellent facilities for this two-week program in Omaha, including a state-of-the-art swimming pool with underwater observation portals for neutral buoyancy training sessions.

Each student participant will receive one science elective credit from OPS, adding to the immediate value of the experience. Teachers completing the summer SDIs will have an opportunity to earn graduate credits at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

This article is part of Space Watch: May 2009 (Volume: 8, Issue: 5).