Name: Mary Inglish
2010-2011 School: Woodrow Wilson Middle School
Teaching Experience: Eleven Years
Featured Lessons Used:
-- Newton's Laws of Motion: Lunar Nautics
-- NASA Now Classroom Videos
Mary Inglish is an eighth-grade science teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Glendale, Calif. NASA Explorer Schools asked Mary some questions regarding her experience with the NES project. She had some great comments and advice to teachers wanting to know how things went in the classroom.
Why did you decide to join NES?
I was drawn to the extensive resources available with educationally rich and fascinating information about NASA that could apply to everything I teach. I also appreciated NES' emphasis on getting students interested and motivated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, careers.
How did you integrate the NES resource into your established curriculum and use it to support your objectives?
Did you do any extensions with this activity?
Prior to introducing the multistage rocket balloon activity, when students were first learning about Newton's Laws of Motion, fluid friction and air resistance, I had the students explore the concepts with a regular balloon instead of the party balloon along a fishing line. I had students attach a straw to their balloon and then blow up the balloon to race each other.
The students began to understand simple concepts such as how much to blow up the balloon to achieve optimal speed, where to attach their straw, which direction the balloon needs to face, and, if the fishing line is put at an incline, what is needed to maintain the speed. This part is what leads nicely into multistage rockets.
Did NES provide you with all of the needed elements to successfully use the content in the classroom?
Yes, this module is excellent the way it is. I just find that my students need a little pre-exploration of motion and fluid friction and air resistance prior to understanding multistage rockets.
How did the students respond to the NES content?
The students love the NASA content! They really enjoyed all three of the activities, especially because they could relate them to real-world, real-space exploration situations. The egg drop was a little time-consuming, but the kids loved it. They really got excited about these activities, so classroom management and control are essential. Students are working in teams so teamwork respect and expectations should be taught and practiced before this activity.
Were the students more excited about STEM after the content?
Yes, definitely. Students are truly fascinated by astronomy and space exploration. Sometimes studying physical science concepts can be boring without exciting examples to relate these concepts to, and this content gives them just that. I had several students come to me and tell me that they wanted to have a job building or creating things and working for NASA. Several of my students told me how they "Liked" NASA on Facebook, as I had told them that I did, so that they receive updates about what NASA is doing.
Did other students in your school see what you were doing and become interested?
At the end of the year, many students kept mentioning my "love for NASA," and I felt that they respected my interest, plus developed an interest of their own. I encouraged all of my students to register for the INSPIRE program and to apply for ongoing opportunities. I shared with the students my previous NES experience with NASA and my excitement for being chosen to attend NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Water Filtration Workshop in Huntsville, Ala., this summer.
Did you do anything else that you can recommend to other teachers?
I think just mentioning NASA wherever/whenever I could.
What would you tell other teachers who aren't sure about trying the featured lessons??
I would tell them to at least just try one of the lessons. The 1- to 2-page educator and student guides make it very easy to understand exactly how to do the activity. Plus, I would emphasize to other teachers about what a difference a lesson makes when students know how it is related to NASA.
I would tell them that it doesn't cost them anything and any time that they spend looking at the NES website for resources is well worth it because it gives you so many ideas of what you can add to your lessons to make them more interesting.
Did you engage anyone in the students' families or from the community?
Many parents were interested to see how their child's team performed for the egg drop. Several students used their egg drop ideas and experience to compete in the MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement) competition held at a local college against other students at other schools across Southern California.
Were there any difficulties in performing the activities?
No, not really. The egg drop is a little time-consuming, but the kids loved it.
Were there any out-of-pocket costs?
Yes, our science department bought the balloons and Styrofoam cups for the multistage rockets since we cannot re-use these from one year to the next. But otherwise, most of the other materials will be re-used. For the egg drop, students had to bring their own materials from home.
Did you use any other technology in implementing the featured lessons?
I used my laptop and LCD projector to show the NASA Now videos however the lunar module itself did not require technology. I know that a great deal of other technology is available that could be used to add more numerical data to these activities, but we do not have that equipment.
Did you have to use the Help Desk at all?
Yes, one time my NASA Now videos were not playing on my new laptop, and I couldn't figure out why, so they were able to help me with this. They were very helpful, patient, friendly and kind.
Will you use more featured lessons in the future?
YES!! I can't wait to try out the Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration activity that we learned this past summer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
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