Monday, March 24, 2008

NASA Explorer School: Key Peninsula MS

A recent column by Hugh McMillan in The Peninsula Gateway reports on Key Peninsula Middle School's continuing relationship with the NASA Explorer Schools program. Recently, Key Peninsula's library hosted a videoconference between students, teachers and NASA astronaut Dr. Janet Kavandi.

Students got to ask questions and get answers from Dr. Kavandi in real time through the interactive videoconference. Dr. Kavandi was in Seattle at the time for a conference and the interaction was relayed between her, the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and KPMS in Lakebay, Washington. Students asked questions about zero gravity, about being in space, and being an astronaut. NASA Explorer School Team Leader Kareen Borders watched the videoconference from Seattle and said she was "so proud of our students. I talked with Dr. Kavandi, who was very impressed with our students and their level of critical thinking. She thought student questions were great.”

Students loved the chance to talk to a real astronaut in real time. One student, Hunter Smith, who hopes to one day work at NASA, said the interactive videoconference was "a once-in-a-lifetime chance — most people never get to do something like that." Gavyn Rutz, another student at the videoconference, called the event "a one-shot deal — if you make it, it’s like a victory. If you did not come to the video conference, you missed out on your diploma." Amy D’Andrea, KPMS Mission Specialist Class teacher, added that the IVC created a lot of excitement in the students and made them even hungrier "for more NASA, more space exploration, more engineering, and more learning about the world beyond Earth.”

KPMS is still partnering with NASA though schools usually have just a three-year relationship with NASA. NASA Explorer Schools get NASA content for science, technology and math courses; summer development workshops for teachers and administrators; collaboration throughout the school year with "NASA aerospace education specialists, Space Grant consortia, educator resource centers and NASA Education networks"; student programs; technology grants; and opportunities for family involvement. Fifty schools sign up every spring for a three-year partnership. More information and applications can be found at the NASA Explorer Schools website.

SOURCE: "Key Peninsula Middle School students pose questions for NASA specialists" 03/19/08
photo courtesy of brionv, used under this Creative Commons license

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