To accomplish incredible tasks, it's good to make use of incredible people.
From the astronaut corps to the teams of scientists and engineers, NASA works to recruit the nation's best and brightest for the workforce that carries out the agency's missions.
That philosophy is also the inspiration behind a new NASA educational publication, "Space Science Is for Everyone: Creating and Using Accessible Resources in Educational Settings." In creating the "Lessons From the Field" guide about teaching students with special needs, NASA drew on the best source of expertise available -- input from educators who work with these students.
The document is the result of seven workshops hosted by the Southeast Regional Clearinghouse, or SERCH. Before concluding in June 2007, SERCH served to connect educators with NASA resources. The project supported NASA's goal of working with educators in attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
One specific goal of the SERCH project was to encourage the development and use of resources that make science education more accessible to students with special needs. Toward that end, SERCH held a series of annual workshops on Exceptional Space Science Materials for Exceptional Students. The conferences allowed for two-way communication between educators and NASA. Educators learned from NASA about available resources and provided feedback about the types of special needs they encounter. Products were tested at workshops by educators who simulated various disabilities. The feedback aided NASA in the development of new resources.
The conferences also provided an opportunity for educators to share ideas with each other, discuss their experiences and form lasting collaborations. An online forum allowed attendees to continue communicating with each other after the conferences.
The new "Space Science Is for Everyone" publication is the culmination of those workshops. Co-written by SERCH and other NASA personnel, with professional formal and informal educators, the guide includes a variety of resources. Several pages are dedicated to tips for working with students with a wide range of special needs. Case studies provide examples of activities that can be conducted in the classroom for these students. Other ideas are offered for modifying common exercises or resources to make them more accessible. Spin-off activities developed as a result of the workshops are listed and explained, and also help demonstrate how the techniques and methodologies discussed can be employed for topics other than space science.
"'Space Science Is for Everyone' captures the philosophy of SERCH," said Robert Shelton, a NASA scientist and regular participant in the SERCH project. "The workshops and other activities not only espoused high ideals but also put them into practical application with educators and product developers, often with dramatic results. The efforts of this group will have lasting ramifications for NASA and educators in that none of us will look at science for special needs kids in the same way."
Space Science Is for Everyone
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NASA Science Mission Directorate →
David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services