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Southlake Style

Carroll ISD Embraces STEAM Initiatives, Skypes With NASA Specialists

Dec 09, 2014 09:07AM ● By Kevin
Students from Walnut Grove Elementary SchoolEubanks IntermediateDurham Intermediate School, and Dawson Middle School made history on Oct. 17 at the NASA Multiscale Magnetosphere Social Event at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Mad. The Carroll ISD students were given the opportunity to ask top scientists, program directors, engineers, and helophysics experts questions about the mission activities, space weather, the sun, and magnetism. This is the first time any group of students were granted this rare opportunity.

"The NASA MMS Mission is scheduled to launch on March 12, 2015," said district instructional technologist Jennifer Miller. "I was invited to NASA to view the spacecraft and cleanroom on Oct. 17. I decided to take the opportunity to bring Carrroll ISD students with me and was successful at connecting four campuses with mission officials at the Goddard Flight center."

Miller, a PhD research assistant and student attending UNT College of Information Department of Learning Technologies, joined Carroll ISD in August 2014; however, it was her earlier work with NASA that led to the opportunities for learning and engagement for district students.

Photo courtesy of Chris Underwood, DIS.

She began working with NASA’s Multiscale Magnetosphere air education team in 2012. From there, she developed curriculum through a problem-based learning unit targeting middle school STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) students. 

Through Miller's research on student perceptions toward STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) careers, and using the arts to generate interest toward topics relating to math and science, she has helped the district employ 3D printers, robotics, digital art and video technologies. 

"There’s a huge career component," she said. "You try to connect students with people who are serving in different STEM career roles and have them in essence serve the role of a STEAM professional using the curriculum we created. We call it 'Take a NASA MMS Challenge.' Students learn about the mission, then they serve the role of a journalist, an artist, a scientist or engineer. They create a reflection serving one of those career roles and teach the general public about the topics surrounding the mission."

In this particular mission, Miller said, students set earth magnetospheres, solar stores, and the sun, and used renewable energies. Students were able to meet people that help NASA with that mission. 

"They have a YouTube channel that creates videos to help facilitate this idea where students learn that it takes everyone working together to promote a successful mission," Miller said. "There’s artists, journalists, videographers, physicists, engineers ... but they’re all working toward a common cause. It gives them a real-world scenario. It helps them make connections of how math and science is applied to a real-world event."

Miller has been working with Dawson art teacher Emily Trammel, whose eighth grade art students recently completed a digital arts exercise on the mission and their reflections will be on display soon. She's also worked with Eubanks Intermediate School's Bea Price. 

Photo courtesy of Chris Underwood, DIS.

"Her kids have been phenomenal," she said. "They’ve been doing a lot in the mission. They took photos from space on Nov. 7 with the international space station, learning about latitude and longitude, and orbits. They were able to submit latitude and longitude to people facilitating the ISS orbit and take a photo based on what the students submit. Then they get a real photo back from the international space station of a certain place on earth they selected." 

The image is an ariel shot a la Google Earth coming from the international space station. The "Earthkam" program is named after Sally Ride, who was the first American woman in space, and also an educator.

Miller also reported Eubanks Intermediate robotics club students and Dawson Middle School art students met with the Father of Digital Art, Laurence Gartel. 

"Mr. Gartel began his long career in 1975 after teaching students computer science," she said. "Emily Trammel’s eighth grade art students researched topics surrounding the mission and reflected on NASA’s MMS mission via digital art using Gimp, a freeware software that is similar to Adobe Photoshop."

These are just a few of the opportunities opened up to Carroll students through Miller's programs. The hope is that students will learn how topics students are learning about directly apply to a real world problem or situation. In addition, the NASA MMS program will provide students direction as to how STEM and STEAM careers all work together to promote a successful real world mission.

"Our chat with Jennifer Miller and Troy Klein regarding the MMS mission was literally out of this world," said Durham math teacher Chris Underwood. "Our students ... along with myself, Denise Smith, Dena Johnson and Wendy Oliver got to experience firsthand exactly what this mission's purpose is and what we hope to learn from it. The students were completely engaged during the chat and I know are looking forward to learning more about the mission in the months to come."

Photo courtesy of Chris Underwood, DIS.