Name: Kimberly Forbes
2010-2011 School: Ferndale Middle School
Subject: Technology and Engineering Education
Teaching Experience: Six Years
Featured Lessons Used:
-- Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber
-- Distance/Rate/Time Problems: Smart Skies™
-- NASA Now Classroom Videos
Kimberly Forbes teaches technology and engineering for grades 6-8 at Ferndale Middle School in High Point, NC. A six-year teaching veteran, Kimberly shared her experience with the NES project. She had some good advice and information to share with other teachers.
Why did you decide to join NES?
I think having NASA resources is amazing and being identified as a NES teacher enhanced my program. I liked the website where I was able to pick and choose the lessons I wanted to teach. I liked the professional development piece as well. It gave me step-by-step instructions on how to deliver the curriculum. I liked the NASA NOW videos as well; they were excellent sources of information for the students.
Which featured lessons did you use?
I used the Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth and Distance/Rate/Time Problems: Smart Skies™.
How did you integrate the NES resource into your established curriculum and use it to support your objectives?
Many times I substituted the NES resources for the suggested ones in my state's Standard Course of Study because I thought the activities were more engaging and the students were learning so much more. When the students were getting excited about coming to class and working on the projects, I knew that I had met my objectives.
What was your overall experience with the NES featured lessons?
I had a very rewarding and satisfying experience with the featured lessons. Again, the electronic professional development and supporting documentation were invaluable in my delivering the lessons.
Did you use the featured lesson as a jumping-off point to other NES materials such as the NASA Now videos?
I did use the featured lessons as a jumping-off point and used the NASA NOW videos as an enhancement to the lessons. Sometimes when I found something interesting with the videos, I showed them outside the curriculum.
Were there any difficulties in performing the activities?
There were some difficulties but not related to NASA. Storing projects the classes were working on presented logistical issues, since I teach 12 classes on an A/B day schedule.
Were there any constraints?
I had some out-of-pocket costs because funding is limited in my school for technology and engineering. However, I felt that it was worth it. The materials that I did purchase can be used again each year.
I had some time constraints because I (only) see students every other day for approximately 40 minutes. As a result, I was not able to complete all the activities in some of the featured lessons.
What would you tell other teachers who aren't sure about trying the featured lessons?
I would tell them to start simple. I would advise first visiting an electronic professional development (session) either online or by attending a Web seminar. I would tell them to ask questions of the NES help desk and then try an activity with a class. Once teachers do one, I think they will do more!
Some modules can be done with little or no expense if teachers are concerned with funds. As far as time, personally I think that the featured lessons actually saved me time. They are so well designed that I didn't have to struggle at all to fit (them to) my curriculum and class time constraints.
How did the students respond to the NES content?
The students actively engaged in the activities. My sixth-graders were going home and using the Smart Skies™ simulator and sharing with their parents. What a wonderful way to get parents involved! When a student says, "Awww! I don't get to come to your class today!" you know you are doing something right.
Were the students more excited about STEM after the content?
Yes. They became more aware of the significance of other subjects and how they apply to other areas of learning.
Did you use any other technology in implementing the featured lessons?
We used computers, temperature probes, thermometers, fans, various light sources, and rulers.
Did you engage anyone in the students' families or from the community?
Parents really got involved using the Smart Skies™ simulator. Some parents got involved with the lunar plant growth chamber. They supplied materials for students to build the chambers. I think that the parents were pleased with the learning taking place in the classroom as well as at home.
Will you use more featured lessons in the future?
Of course! I can't wait to see the new featured lessons and figure out how to work them into my curriculum this year. I really think that is part of the fun for me as a teacher! And also the students know that I will choose fun and interesting activities each year!
Please visit the About NASA Explorer Schools section to learn more about the benefits of registration.
› NASA Explorer Schools 2011 Teacher Selections
› Sample NASA Now Video