How I Used NES In My Classroom: Meet Chick Knitter
Chick Knitter teaches sixth-grade mathematics and science at Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. An 18-year teaching veteran, Chick shared his experience with the NASA Explorer Schools project. He had some great advice and information to share with other teachers.
Why did you decide to join NES?
My elementary school Hobgood had been a NASA Explorer School since 2005 under the old program format. During that time, the school and its faculty and students benefited greatly from the relationship with NASA Explorer Schools.
When researching and reading about the "updated" NES project, I found the old and the new programs had many of the same features. However, the addition of the NASA Now videos, the lesson library, the NES Teachers Corner blog and the Virtual Campus added to my desire to continue to take part in the program. Another reason is that it takes less time documenting my involvement in the NES project using the new reporting process.
Which featured lessons did you use?
The activity I have the most experience integrating into the curriculum is the Modeling Hot and Cold Planets featured lesson.
I also played the NASA Now classroom videos to the students. The students really, really enjoyed the videos! The videos' fast-paced, informative and educational format helps keep the students focused during the short clip. The pre- and post- questions give the students a brief assessment to help them measure what they just learned.
How did you integrate the NES resource into your established curriculum and use it to support your objectives?
I used Modeling Hot and Cold Planets as an investigation into the causes of global warming, which is a state standard. Students were divided into groups with two to four students per group. The hands-on investigation allowed the students insight into one of the possible causes, the albedo effect, of global warming. The collection and recording of the data during the investigation allowed students ownership, thus increasing their interests in the outcome and desire learning objective(s).
What was your overall experience with the NES featured lessons?
I showed the classes the student videos on the Modeling Hot and Cold Planets prior to students' starting the investigation. I firmly believe it helped the students understand the procedures of the investigation. I also showed the students all the related NASA Now events listed on the site.
The lesson contained 12 activities, each taking one to five classes to complete. I selected two that had the most state standards embedded in them.
Also, I entered two students into last year's NASA Explorer Schools' Student Symposium held in Florida. They were accepted and did a great job of presenting the data and explaining the albedo effect of a surface in relation to its temperature.
Did NES provide you with all of the needed elements to use successfully in the classroom?
They provided more than enough. Just about the only thing that wasn’t provided was someone in person from NES to help me during the activity!
Were there any difficulties or constraints in performing the activities?
There were not any internal factors with using the content, only the typical schedule and time issues that every teacher has to deal with. But the lessons allow teachers to modify and adjust the time and activities to meet teacher's needs; so, on average, I spent roughly 45 minutes over three days to complete the activity.
I ended up spending a little over $100 for the equipment required for the activity in Modeling Hot and Cold Planets. However, all materials purchased can be reused in the future.
What would you tell other teachers who aren't sure about trying the content?
From my experiences, I have found the lesson activities and the time involved can be modified and adjusted to meet the time constraints of a teacher's schedule and class. Furthermore, the lessons are designed to target national standards, which often align with state standards. I also found that the NES project has more than enough support in place to help make teaching the lesson not only a success but also fairly easy.
Overall, it's a 'win, win' for you and your students! The NES content and website is user-friendly and designed to meet the needs (prior content knowledge, procedures of activities, etc.) of a teacher, especially in regard to time constraints.
Any out-of-pocket purchases associated with a lesson are more than likely for a nonconsumable, which could be used over and over in the future. Any costs associated with consumables required for a lesson would be relatively inexpensive. Furthermore, the research opportunities offered through the Teacher Recognition may require some initial out-of-pocket expense; however, all costs associated with travel and meals are fully reimbursed to the teacher upon completion of the class. Time and money are normally the barriers that keep educators from trying new things, but the NES project considered those two factors when designing a module and the project.
Did you do anything specific with your students that you can recommend to other teachers?
I think showing the students the lesson videos, which broke down each procedure of the investigation, was a powerful tool that helped the students understand the task at hand and the roles each would have during the investigation.
Did other students in your school see what was going on and become interested in what you were doing?
Yes, they did. My school is very small, so everyone knows what everyone else is doing! A couple of the activities -- a video entered into a NASA contest and a presentation by two students selected to present at last year's Student Symposium -- involved either the whole school or other grade levels viewing the video of the two sixth-grade students who presented to the fifth grade for practice. Furthermore, many of my students have siblings in other grades, so word of mouth has helped in spreading what goes on in the sixth grade.
Will you use the NES content next year?
Yes, I have already previewed the new Meteorology: How Clouds Form lessons that look enticing and target state standards.
Please visit the About NASA Explorer Schools
section to learn more about the benefits of registration.
› Student Recognition
› Sample NASA Now Video