The Student Observation Network provides activity modules with a theme that promotes inquiry. Each module is organized around an essential question. Each essential question is subdivided into several subordinate questions that guide inquiry. Students develop their own questions as they proceed with the investigation.
SON is ideally suited to the Jigsaw approach. With the Jigsaw approach, small groups of students become 'experts' on one part of the larger question (or puzzle). The expert groups come together to share their expertise and to solve the problem. The breadth of SON also allows students from other schools and other parts of the world to be experts in one or more parts of the Jigsaw. Students are engaged over several weeks or months in understanding each piece of the puzzle: observing or measuring significant phenomena, interpreting observations and measurements, predicting effects, explaining the evidence for their predictions, comparing their results to NASA data, and reporting results to the Student Observation Network.
SON provides the theme that unites many classroom objectives that are often taught in isolation. Research shows that students learn concepts better when the concepts are taught in a context.
SON modules begin with National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Concepts that are essential to understanding the content of the essential question are linked to the central curriculum. For example, units and lessons developing core classroom educational objectives for light, magnetism, energy, the sun, and Earth's magnetic field are available online from appropriate sections of Tracking a Solar Storm. Other modules develop other core educational objectives. Many science and math standards can be met depending upon what parts of SON students investigate and upon those activities students explore.
"Today, humanity has the potential to seek answers to the most fundamental questions posed about the existence of life beyond Earth. Telescopes have found planets around other stars. Robotic probes have identified potential resources on the moon, and evidence of water -- a key ingredient for life -- has been found on Mars and the moons of Jupiter," -- as stated in "NASA: The Vision for Space Exploration," February 2004.
Engage students in the excitement of learning using NASA data. Choose a SON module with relative curriculum goals.