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Mission SPACE: Student Practical Adventure Class Experience


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Office: 972-218-1433
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mission SPACE: Student Practical Adventure Class Experience
Lancaster ISD Fourth and Fifth Graders Prepare for a Trip That’s Out of This World

Lancaster, TX/Lancaster ISD

This spring, Lancaster ISD elementary teachers are planning a field trip that is out of this world. On May 24, more than 900 fourth and fifth grade students will embark on a voyage to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“There were several factors that contributed to the idea of our fourth and fifth graders visiting NASA,” Belt Line Elementary teacher Chasiti McKissic said. “At the beginning of the school year, I began thinking about possible field trips for fourth grade. Typically, they travel to Austin to visit the Bob Bullock Museum and the State Capitol Building. Even though that field trip offers the opportunity for students to get a first-hand look at Texas history and where our laws are made, I wanted students to experience more.”

With Lancaster ISD being a STEM for all district heavily emphasizing college and career readiness, McKissic thought that a trip to NASA would be the perfect opportunity for students to experience each entity.

“This one field trip offers direct exposure to STEM, while heightening the students’ awareness of careers that fall within the STEM domains,” she said.

For Pleasant Run Elementary teacher Rebecca Wren, taking students to the Johnson Space Center is simply aligned with what the district is already doing in terms of increasing students’ STEM awareness and exposure.

“When you think of science and engineering, NASA immediately comes to mind,” she said. “This is an opportunity to experience something that many of our children would never be able to do without this trip. We want them to see what is possible in their future and to encourage them to believe that they can accomplish anything.”

In addition to the excitement and exposure of STEM career fields, Houston Elementary teacher Allen Edwards hopes that this trip adds relevance to what the students have been learning in the classroom.

“NASA covers all areas of STEM and is a way to bring real-life connections to our students in order to motivate and help them see that what is being taught in the classroom is meaningful and real,” he said.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, students will participate in activities and lessons geared toward not only building excitement, but also designed to increase their knowledge of what exactly happens at the space center and what the career fields encompass.

“We will look a bit at the history of NASA and how people who worked for NASA really changed our world in a short time. We will explore some of the different jobs at NASA and the skills that one would need to develop if you want one of these jobs in the future,” Wren said. “We will also look at the future of NASA and how the dreams and ideas of young people today may be brought to fruition in our future.”

Edwards agrees with Wren and said that teachers are already excited about the NASA lesson planning.

“I expect the students to be involved in activities that will cause them to work collaboratively to solve multi-step problems using math and science. Other activities could include creating models of space shuttles, brainstorming questions with students that can be asked once we arrive and research nutritional meals that are used on space ships and how they are selected and created,” he said. “I am hoping that our students will be able to see that applying themselves now will truly be able to open doors for them later.”
While at NASA, students will be engaged in many hands-on activities.

“They will take a TRAM ride around the NASA facility to observe daily tasks and routines of an astronaut. Students will touch real life artifacts from space and participate in demonstrations about how astronauts live in space,” McKissic said. “Students will also view exhibits that show how technology has contributed to the advancement and redefining of what we know about space.”

Edwards said that experiencing the hands-on opportunities will help students realize the reality of space travel and the differences between what is real and what is fantasy.

“I also hope that the students can grasp the concept that what they see at NASA is only a higher level of today’s learning,” he said.
In Lancaster ISD, STEM is all about making education relevant and encouraging students to make connections between school and their futures.

“This trip will get our students excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and help inspire them to believe that great things are possible for their future,” Wren said. “We are preparing our students not for the reality of today but for the reality of tomorrow.”

The Lancaster Public Schools serve more than 6,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 11 schools. The mission of the Lancaster Independent School District, a leader in providing innovative, quality programs, is to educate every student with the knowledge; skills; and principles to succeed and contribute in a competitive and technologically advancing world by providing rigorous and engaging learning opportunities that promote diversity; create an environment of integrity and respect; and establish a commitment to continued improvement in partnership with families and community.
422 S. Centre Ave. Lancaster, TX 75146 ~ 972.218.1400 ~