How I Used NES In My Classroom: Meet Teacher Denise Duke
Teachers might be concerned that NASA content is too hard to bring into their elementary classrooms, but Denise Duke shows it can be done. A 19-year teaching veteran, Duke was drawn to the NASA Explorer Schools, or NES, project because of the wide variety of activities she could use to engage her students and enhance her curriculum.
How did you use NASA content in your classroom?
I used NASA's Picture of the Day, the Digital Learning Network, and NASA eClips™.
My class looks at the NASA Picture of the Day, and we talk about the picture in great detail. The Picture of the Day has excited my students about science, and they are eager to learn about space. My students have participated in several DLN programs this school year and absolutely loved interacting with the astronauts. This interaction was an experience they will never forget.
I just started to use the eClips™ in the classroom. My students saw several pictures of black holes in the Picture of the Day, and they watched an eClips™ on black holes. My students were so excited about the clip they watched that they asked to do the writing activity discussed in the video. Their writings were fantastic; some of the students who don't typically like to write were composing simple stories. They created a storybook of their work and emailed it to NASA.
I also received the lunar samples and used those in the classroom and during our NASA Family Night.
What was your overall experience with the NES featured lesson?
The lesson was wonderful and engaging for my students.
Did NES provide you with all of the needed elements to use successfully in the classroom?
Yes, everything was great! I would love, however, to see more activities created for students of all ages. I believe if we get the students interested in science, technology, engineering mathematics and geography, or STEM-G, earlier, it would spark more interest in the field.
Will you do more featured lessons this next year?
Yes, I plan to do several more featured lessons this coming school year. I am working with my team and school to provide more activities for all students here at Forest Lake. I am one of the chairpersons for our NASA Family Nights that we host four times a year where we focus on STEM-G activities.
What would you tell other teachers who aren’t sure about trying the featured lesson?
I would tell other teachers to really look at the subject matter and know what your students are interested in. If it is something they would enjoy, do the activity or let them watch the NASA Now Classroom video. My students were very interested in black holes, so we watched a NASA Now video on that topic. It was amazing the information that the students took from the video. They wrote stories and illustrated their writings about "An Astronaut's Encounter With a Black Hole in the Year 2025."
How did the students respond to the NASA content?
They loved the activities and wanted to do them more often. I am hoping to implement more throughout the school year. They will watch a NASA Now clip every Friday and will do a writing activity and/or technology activity every week.
Were the students more excited about science, engineering, technology and mathematics after the content?
Yes, the NES materials have increased my students' interest and knowledge in science and will have an impact on how they will learn in the future.
Did you do anything specific with your students that you can recommend to other teachers?
I have recommended watching the NASA Now Classroom videos every week, and I am working with older students to do other featured lessons.
Did other students in your school see what was going on and become interested in what you were doing?
All of the students in the school were able to see some of the activities through our school news show, "Forest Lake Today." The news show is broadcast every day to the entire school. I sent them the Picture of the Day one morning, and the feedback from the students was so positive that they now show NASA's Picture of the Day every morning on the news show.
Did you use any other technology in implementing the featured lesson?
The students created several projects in the classroom using computer programs. After watching the "Magnificent Sun" from NASA's DLN, they used a computer program to illustrate what they learned. The program allowed the students to label and type information on a photo.
The students also used technology for an activity they did after watching an eClips™ video on black holes. The students wrote and illustrated their own story called, "An Astronaut's Encounter With a Black Hole in the Year 2025." I scanned their writings and made an electronic storybook. The students recorded their readings, and their video was shown on our school's news show. We emailed it to NASA.
We have also done a variety of technology activities with force and motion.
Did you engage anyone in the students’ families or community?
I have collaborated with two University of South Carolina professors for the past three years. They come to our school and provide a "Being There" experience for the students. Four times each year, the professors do a 45-minute interactive activity based on our standards. These activities give the students an opportunity to learn from community leaders who share their knowledge and have a desire to increase student interest in STEM careers. The professors have also written a proposal for a NASA grant to do more of their "Being There" experiences in other area schools.
I helped coordinate activities focusing on science standards during our NASA Family Nights. I scheduled DLN sessions so parents have the opportunity to participate along with their children. I think providing these opportunities has increased the interest about science in our community. For our NASA Family Night being held in April, we will have the lunar and meteorite samples on display for students, parents and community members to see. I hope to coordinate a downlink with the International Space Station through NASA's Teaching From Space In-flight Education Downlinks.
Please visit the About NASA Explorer Schools
section to learn more about the benefits of registration.
› NASA Now Classroom Video Sample
› Picture of the Day
› NASA’s Digital Learning Network
› Lunar and Meteorite Samples →
› NASA eClips™
› NASA Teaching From Space: In-flight Education Downlinks