Today, Saturday January 26th, started a bit late due to weather. The Mars Workshop being hosted at NC Museum of Natural Sciences was suppose to start at 10 am. Bad weather delayed the workshop until 11 am.
Upon arrival we were given tons of information and materials for day. Brandon Hargis, from NASA Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP) began the presentation introducing various educational resources that could be found on the NASA Educator website. Amazing how much material is available to teachers on the NASA website. I already have experience with NES (NASA explorers school) and NASA Educator area. I recently went to this site for some resources for our current Lunar Challenge project (will be discussed in a future blog entry). After introducing some really great resources Brandon handed the workshop over to Dr. David Way, an Engineer from NASA Langley who worked on the Mars Curiosity mission. Dr. Way was great, he answered all our questions. Dr. Way was presenting at Astronomy Day at NC Museum of Natural Science. This event was taking place at the same time as the workshop. Once his presentation was finished Brandon gave us our assignment. The rest of the workshop was building and experiencing an activity that corresponded to STEM and the Next Generation Standards. Brandon had taken an activity from NASA Best and changed it to suit Mars. He did give us the Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet lesson (grades 6-12). We went over the first part the lesson which was a card game. Using the 5 E’s students are asked to design a mission to Mars. Different Cards represented different systems such as power, launch, computer etc. Using a design mat students would design the actual spacecraft according to certain specifications listed on the cards. This looks like a good lesson for the future. The great thing about it is it really does spell out its objectives and learning outcomes throughout the lesson.
We then started a lesson that was taken from NASA Best: Build a Lunar Satellite. For example, we had to design a Mars rover within certain specifications and develop a landing mechanism. By using the Engineering design principles, we started with a problem and worked our way to a solution. Great lesson and something I will use eventually in class. The best part of the workshop is that it gave us a chance to do a lesson and find out the pitfalls some of our students could come across. Of course different concepts were present throughout the activity.
All the groups had some great ideas. We had set some goals at the beginning of the workshop. They included learning more about integrating engineering into the classroom and learning about various materials to bring back to the classroom to implement this goal. We obtained those goals and more. This was a great workshop and I would recommend it to everyone. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences, have some great educational programs and I would do another one if offered at the museum. There is another NASA STEM conference being offered in March at the 5th Annual NASA Educators Workshop for STEM in Charlotte. Definitely an idea for a future PD.