Report from Headquarters

Field Day Incorporates STEM Lessons

Written by: developer

The annual field day at Freedom Elementary School in Colorado Springs took on a new light this year when the Space Foundation presented workshops on sunlight to more than 250 children in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.

In addition to the usual outdoor field day games, children learned about basic principles of light through craft activities. Space Foundation aerospace education specialists Bobby Gagnon (pictured) and Melissa Peterson taught lessons on light refraction and showed the children how to make paper eyeglasses with lenses that helped them see the diffraction of visible light. The students also made beaded bracelets that changed colors when exposed to ultraviolet light. The lessons included warnings about the dangers of sunlight and reminders to never look directly at the sun.

“Having the Space Foundation participate in the field day festivities has been a great opportunity to showcase the integration of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education across disciplines that are not normally considered space-related,” said Peterson.

A variation on the theme of light and vision was presented by representatives from the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), who taught the game of Goalball to students. Goalball is a team sport specifically designed for athletes who are blind and visually impaired. The game helped Freedom students learn how people with disabilities engage in physical activities.

Freedom School physical education teacher Jerry Wilson coordinated the field day. He has attended several Space Foundation professional development classes for educators and, as a result of that training, chose to incorporate STEM lessons into the field day.

“Taking the professional development classes this past summer opened my eyes to how easy it was to incorporate STEM lessons into my physical education classes,” said Wilson. “I was able to meet with Bobby Gagnon of the Space Foundation, and we brainstormed ideas and came up with the two activity stations for field day. It was such a success that I will be including the Space Foundation in my field day every year.”

More about educator professional development classes can be found under the new name, Space Across the Curriculum.

This article is part of Space Watch: October 2009 (Volume: 8, Issue: 10).