Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Fun Experience in the Field Trip Classroom

Mrs. Lorriane Houston Awarding an
Honor to a Member of the Staff

by Lorriane Houston
Space Center Educator


Teaching in the classroom is like giving a performance on stage. Each day the afternoon class comes in with full tummies and an attitude. The simulation is over and thirty small bodies enter into the classroom, They glare at me and I sense their thoughts; " nothing you can do will ever be better than the space ships. I dare you to teach me something!"
The lesson begins with the usual spill on Christa McAuliffe first teacher in space. Some adults ask questions but most of the time they settle in for a long nap. I then introduce them to Edwin Hubble an recite his words: "equipped with his five senses man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science." I tell them to sit up straight, buckle their set belts and stare into the main screen. We are going to take an adventure into space. By this time most of them are listening and ready to see what the classroom has to offer. I turn up the volume as loud as I dare and push the button. On the screen stars appear, Star Wars music plays while the words "LONG AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY" roll across the screen. The words continue " WAIT, HOW LONG AGO? HOW FAR WAY? WHAT ARE GALAXIES? WHERE DO THEY COME FROM? DO WE LIVE IN A GALAXY? The last question asked is,"WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT GALAXY FAR FAR WAY, ANYWAY?
I can always tell by their reaction what kind of class they will be.
Once in a great while the class will respond by laughing and be ready to learn all about galaxies. One day last week I had a class really enjoy the lesson, they were asking questions and participating. Their expressions of awe where gratifying, the way you flight directors feel when you have a crew that listens, learns and screams at the right time. At the end of the lesson the teacher had the students give me a round of applause, a standing ovation.
It happened with two classes on the same day, it was an unprecedented first. The classroom has begun to rise in competition with the simulators!
Maybe I did exaggerate just a bit. I had the students standing ready to leave when the teacher had them clap. Still, It was a standing ovation!
The awesome teachers and classroom lessons are beginning to compete with the simulators!
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