The topic they chose: Why Man Explores. The final assignment: Design a program to present to middle schoolers promoting both the allure and the value of exploration. The message: Stay in school, study hard, dream on!
Five First Colonial High School students have spent a semester studying the propensity humans have to explore. They researched past explorers – not the Christopher Columbus- type but obscure individuals intent on discovery. Bringing their study into the present, they next designed an expedition to a current but relatively unknown location - all within an imaginary but limited budget. Finally, looking to the future, they focused on the ultimate exploration - NASA's plans to return to the moon, then travel to Mars and beyond.
These NASA ambassadors will present their independent study results in an interactive program at Virginia Beach Middle School at noon on Tuesday, June 7. Media interested in covering the event should contact NASA Langley Exploration Outreach officer Chris Giersch at 864-6590 by 4 p.m. Monday, June 6, to make arrangement for entry to the school.
Giersch, a former Norfolk teacher, and Sharon Bowers, a Virginia Beach teacher on detail to NASA, worked with First Colonial Gifted coordinator Susan Puckett to support the students in their research project.
The gifted juniors and seniors chose to deliver their presentation to middle school students "because," says junior Jackie DuVall, "they are highly impressionable. They are at the age where they are starting to think about what they want to do in the future. By targeting them, we are trying to target the future."
Seventeen-year-old Sarah McKinney sums up the study this way, "We want the students to realize that you don't have to be an astronaut to be an explorer. Every one of these students is an explorer. We are all explorers in one way or another."
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