NASA and the Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) have teamed up to develop Mission Geography, a set of classroom modules for K-12 students that links national geography standards with NASA missions and results.
Image to left: The Mission Geography CD-ROM is available at CORE. Credit: NASA
Throughout the activities, NASA data and images are used to engage students in exploration of the environment and how it impacts life on Earth and other planets.
"The aim of Mission Geography was to develop active, exciting activities for students that would both teach significant content but also model the processes of scientific research and investigation," said Sarah Bednarz, associate professor of geography at Texas A&M University, GENIP project coordinator and director of the Mission Geography project.
GENIP is a consortium of geographical associations committed to improving geographic education.
There are three separate series of modules, each geared toward a different grade level. The modules for grades K-4 focus on fundamental spatial skills, simple physical geography, and Earth as the home of humans.
"There is not a great deal of curriculum support material developed for [grades] K-4 focused on these important elements of the national geography standards," Bednarz said. "One of our goals was to develop investigations that would prepare K-4 students to do meaningful geography in these areas."
Image to right: Keith Bellinger conducts a Mission Geography lesson in his third-grade class at Longstreth Elementary in Warminster, Pennsylvania. Credit: NASA
Students are first introduced to the basics of satellite images, which they then use to study water on Earth and other planets, population distribution and paths created by people, animals and natural phenomena. Various hands-on activities help students learn key concepts and mapping skills.
Mission Geography was developed by a team of nationally recognized educators and scientists. The materials can be accessed online or via CD-ROM, and include PowerPoint presentations to help familiarize teachers with the modules and detailed information on alignment to state curriculum standards.
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