HAMPTON, Va. - A visit to NASA Langley last week proved to be a valuable learning experience for 19 elementary and middle school teachers and administrators. Beginning June 17, the one-week workshop focused on incorporating NASA content into the participating schools' curriculum and creating a strategic plan to assist with the schools' individual challenges.
Mary Ann Green Stinson, Patricia Ashley, Wanda Johnson, Gini Miller and Stephanie Hooks of John B. Cary Elementary School in Richmond, Va., devoted last week to learning from presentations and interactive lessons, participating in team-building activities and touring Langley's wind tunnels.
Administrator Mary Ann Green Stinson looks to the NES program to "inspire and motivate" the students.
"I believe Cary will become the premiere math and science elementary school in the city of Richmond – NASA will support the achievement of our goal," said Stinson.
The teachers and administrators received this opportunity through the NASA Explorer Schools (NES) Program. Since 2003, the NES program has been establishing three-year partnerships with schools across the nation. NASA works with the schools to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Fifth-grade teacher Patricia Ashley became interested in the NES program because of the potential benefits for her students.
"It will open doors and allow them to experience things in a way that only NASA can provide," Ashley said.
The workshop's theme – Moon, Mars and Beyond – involved a number of hands-on activities including the construction of model airplanes and parachutes. The workshop also provided stimulating lectures and presentations. For fifth-grade teacher Wanda Johnson, the lectures captivated her the most.
"The caliber of lectures and their level of expertise was impressive," Johnson said. "To be in the presence of persons who pioneered space history was exciting."
Teachers and administrators are now able to return to their schools and pass on to their students the valuable lessons they learned. Students will have the opportunity to participate in digital conferences with scientists and engineers and other hands-on learning activities.
"On a daily basis, we'll be able to utilize the resources, concepts, lessons and materials to enhance our district's curriculum," said Gini Miller, special education teacher.
Stephanie Hooks, fourth-grade teacher, plans to integrate what she has learned at the workshop into her everyday lessons.
"I will incorporate the lessons that I have learned in my science and math classes by allowing my students to conduct inquiry-based experiments," Hooks said.
The NES program provides exciting experiences for both students and teachers. John B. Cary Elementary was one of only 25 schools in the nation to be selected as a 2007 NASA Explorer School. The partnership between NASA and John B. Cary was announced in May.
"We were so excited when we found out we were selected as a NES for 2007," Ashley said. "I look forward to furthering my own knowledge through NASA programs so that I can use that to better myself as an educator. When teachers and NASA come together, it is a win-win situation."
To learn more about the NES program, please visit:
For information about NASA research and exploration, visit:
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