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Back to School With Top Stars
A space-themed collage showing a woman looking at the Hubble Space Telescope

Winning entries in the Hubble Top Stars contest are now available for downloading. Image Credit: NASA

A new school year always brings changes for students and teachers alike. One thing that hasn't changed is NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which continues to snap stunning images of the universe as it's done for 20 years and counting.

Top Stars, a NASA-sponsored contest celebrating this year's 20th anniversary of Hubble, has produced a collection of nearly 20 award-winning education products. Educators wanting to incorporate Hubble into formal and informal settings this school year can download Top Stars activities from the Showcase section of the Top Stars website -- http://topstars.strategies.org.

The Top Stars contest invited U.S. formal and informal educators to submit their best examples of using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, or STEM, education. The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, or IGES, conducted the contest in cooperation with the Space Telescope Science Institute, which manages the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. Submissions were accepted from individuals and from teams of up to four members. Entries included any combination of text, graphics, video and photos.

In July, 14 educators received "Gold Stars," awarded to the best of the best -- as judged by IGES and NASA scientists and educators -- from the entries selected as Top Stars during the contest's four rounds of competition. Examples of Gold Star-winning products include:
  • Playground Planetarium: A curriculum that teaches elementary school students about constellations and the myths surrounding them. Younger students design and create their own planetarium using a dome-shaped playground climber, while older students analyze Hubble images.
  • Twenty Years of Hubble: Middle school students create a timeline of Hubble events and discover new vocabulary using foldable cards.
  • The Life and Death of Bob (a.k.a. NGC 6397): A slide show and supplemental images chronicle the use of Hubble images through a semester-long, college-level introductory astronomy course.
Gold Star winners receive the following prizes (in addition to previously awarded Top Stars prizes):
  • An official letter of commendation from NASA.
  • An invitation to present their entry to other educators nationwide using the NASA Digital Learning Network.
  • A pair of IMAX movie tickets that can be used to see "Hubble 3D."
  • A "Hubble 3D" movie poster for classroom display.
Educators selected as Gold Stars also will be featured in articles on NASA's website.

"All of our Gold Star and Top Star winners should be extremely proud of their work," said Bonnie McClain, NASA Hubble education plan co-lead. "Educators and students around the world will benefit from their effective use of Hubble in high-quality education products and activities."

The following is a complete list of Gold Star winners:
  • Jacky Byatt, Houston, Texas: "Twenty Years of Hubble" (middle school).
  • C. Renee James, Huntsville, Texas: "The Life and Death of Bob (a.k.a NGC 6397) in an Introductory College-Level Astronomy Course" (undergraduate).
  • Sheree' Kearns, Jacksonville, Fla.: "Galactic Brain Buster" (high school).
  • Joan Labay-Marquez, Boerne, Texas: "Playground Planetarium" (elementary school).
  • Carrie Murray, West Chester, Ohio: "Hubble Space Telescope Inspired Research Wiki Pages" (elementary school).
  • AmyJo Proctor, Ron Proctor and Stacy Palen, Ogden, Utah: "Expanded View" (informal education).
  • Stephanie Slater, Timothy Slater and Daniel Lyons, Laramie, Wyo.: "Using HST to Scaffold Student-driven Scientific Inquiry" (undergraduate).
  • Keith Turner, Noblesville, Ind.: "Adopt a Constellation: Final Project" (high school).
  • Andrew Vandenheuvel, Coopersville, Mich.: "Make an HST Photo" (high school).
  • John Williams, Golden, Colo.: "Hubble Star Cards" and "StarryCritters -- What do you see in the night sky?" (informal education).
For more information, please visit http://topstars.strategies.org.

Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies