Thursday, May 19, 2011

NASA Explorer School Online

The NASA Explorer School website is absolutely amazing! Talk about a great resource for teachers in all content areas. While at an NSTA conference back in October I went to their session about NES. Once the session ended I couldn't wait to get to a computer to sign up, and it's free! The program is great because it has so much to offer and because it is easy to get around. First they have the NASA Now videos. Each week they have a new 7 minute video focused on various areas that NASA works with or focuses on. It is nice to plug these in when there are a few minutes left at the end of the day. I also love that it shows students various careers through NASA. Then, there are the teaching modules. These are the awesome books that NASA distributes to the ERC's and at workshops. On this site you can have access to them whenever you want and print whatever you want! I have implemented the Rocket and Smart Skies modules into my 5th grade class this year and the kids love them! It really makes great real world connections and crosses into the language arts and math curriculum at various age levels. Now that I have learned more about them I plan on using them more next year. The bonus to go along with the modules is that they have video professional development right there so you can see how to use them in the classroom! If that isnt enough or your questions aren't answered then they also have online webinars focused on the modules. I have done four webinars and found them to be extremely helpful. I feel like the coolest part of this program is that they reward teachers for using these materials! You log your activities (and they dont always have to be from NES) and then you can become eligible for teacher recognition opportunities. I have logged around 30 NASA activities during the year so I applied for the GAVRT (Goldstone Radio Telescope) project in California and was accepted!! NES and NSTA are covering my costs to travel out there and spend the week learning how to use the telescope. Being a part of NASA Explorer Schools has helped me grow as a teacher and provide amazing opportunities for my students. Next year I will be trying the student symposium, new modules, and hopefully another teacher recognition opportunity. Try it out for yourself! You won't be disappointed.

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