Name: Elizabeth Petry
2010-2011 School: Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary School
Grade: 1-5, Gifted Resource Teacher
Subject: Technology and Engineering Education
Teaching Experience: 15 Years
Featured Lessons Used:
-- Properties of Living Things: Fingerprints of Life
-- Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber
-- Heat Transfer: MESSENGER - My Angle on Cooling
-- NASA Now Classroom Videos
-- NES Chats
Elizabeth Petry is a 15-year teaching veteran who is the resource teacher for gifted students in grades 1-5 at Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary School in Suffolk, Va. Petry was drawn to NASA Explorer Schools because she believed NES would give her authentic teaching opportunities, and she then could share her experiences with her students.
NES asked Petry some questions about her experience with using NES in her gifted students' program curriculum.
Which featured lessons did you use?
I used the Properties of Living Things: Fingerprints of Life and Heat Transfer: MESSENGER - My Angle on Cooling featured lessons. I used the NASA Now video clips on a weekly basis, and we participated in two webcasts through NES.
How did you integrate the NES resources into your established curriculum and use it to support your objectives?
As a gifted resource teacher, I have more liberty than some classroom teachers. I provide extension and critical-thinking opportunities within my curriculum to the students. I am able to enhance our state standards by selecting resources that incorporate in-depth applications. Additionally, I used several resources through NES with my whole classroom sessions that more directly applied to state standards.
What was your overall experience with the NES material?
Overall, I believe that the NES content was very helpful. I especially liked the professional development teacher video collections that I could watch on-demand; these videos allowed me to see the lesson being used in a classroom setting. The on-demand feature allows me to receive training within my busy schedule. I thought the NASA Now video resources were received well by my students.
Did you use the module as a jumping-off point to other NES materials such as the NASA Now videos?
I used the NASA Now videos first to provide a little background information and generate interest in the topic.
Did NES provide you with all of the needed elements to successfully use in the classroom?
The NES featured lessons are very comprehensive and provide adequate information for their successful implementation.
What would you tell other teachers who aren't sure about trying the NES content?
The NES content is a wonderful way to present current, authentic science activities for your students. The activities are presented on a user-friendly, concise, and easily navigated website. What a fabulous free resource!
What advice would you give other teachers who are considering joining NES but have concerns?
The NASA Now videos are a good way to sample the content that NES makes available to teachers. Teachers can use the videos to get their "feet wet" with the content without making a major commitment to time or expense. After watching the videos, I was hooked.
How did the students respond to the NASA content?
My students, who are self-proclaimed "NASA geeks," said, "We love learning about NASA and our trip to NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the Student Symposium was awesome. Words can't describe how great it is."
The students definitely were more excited about the engineering and technology components of the featured lessons as we built and designed different projects.
Did you do anything specific with your students that you can recommend to other teachers?
I have a bi-weekly NASA lunch club in which my fourth- and fifth-grade students pick up their lunch from the cafeteria and join me in my classroom for NES activities and NASA's Digital Learning Network, or DLN, activities and video conferences. This is free time that isn't claimed by anyone else in the school, so students weren't missing instructional time by participating. But as a result, they gained so much in our time together. We also met monthly via video conference with an educational specialist from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
Did you engage the families or community?
Last year, we invited parents to a schoolwide "Earth-Space Day" where the students presented information at a variety of stations, including the moon, the solar system, and the Earth-sun-moon relationship. The other students and parents in attendance were very pleased with the student's presentations during the program.
This summer, during our Regional Governor's School session, students investigated "Living on the Red Planet" and chose a project to complete during the three-week program based on the resources that were presented in a variety of settings. At the end of this program, the students presented their projects through posters, models, and (computer) presentations. Again, their presentations were well received.
Will you do more featured lessons this year?
Yes, I am planning on incorporating more featured lessons this year. My students are going to participate in the What If No Gravity, or WING, program out of NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as the virtual student symposium. I currently am looking for new NES featured lessons that may assist us in our endeavors.
Please visit the About NASA Explorer Schools section to learn more about the benefits of registration.
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