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Texas Space Grant Consortium Awards K-12 Education Project Grants
June 02, 2004

As part of its ongoing program to encourage educators to capitalize on the fascination of youth with space, the Texas Space Grant Consortium has awarded four K-12 Educational Programs Awards. The four Education Program Awards focus on astronomy for rural teachers, helping the visually impaired understand the universe, providing teachers with information about modern geographic information systems, and the student fabrication of small electronic instruments analogous to those used on satellites. The four awards for 2004 are:

  • Professional Development Workshops for Rural Texas Teachers at McDonald Observatory
    Dr. Mary Kay Hemenway, University of Texas at Austin

  • Space Vision
    Dr. Judit Ries, University of Texas at Austin

  • Geographic Information Systems and Space for Educators
    Dr Fred Sedgwick, San Jacinto College

  • Stimulating Interest in Space Careers through CricketSat Activities
    Dr. Scott Starks, University of Texas at El Paso

The Texas Space Grant Consortium is a group of 35 institutions which include universities, industrial organizations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies within Texas. Through education and research, the Consortium seeks to inspire Texans to participate in and support NASAs mission of improving life on our planet, extending life beyond our planet, and exploring the universe.

For more information about this program visit http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/epo/

Professional Development Workshops for Rural Texas Teachers at McDonald Observatory

Directed by Dr. Mary Kay Hemenway of the University of Texas at Austin this project will provide rural Texas teachers with a variety of standards-based space science educational materials and activities though workshops at McDonald Observatory (near Fort Davis, TX) in the summer 2005. In their workshop, 15 elementary teachers will use minds-on, hands-on activities about our solar system and how it is explored. In another workshop, 15 secondary school teachers will perform more quantitative activities related to space missions that investigate objects beyond the solar system. Links to physics and chemistry will be stressed. All participants will learn how research is done in astronomy at a professional observatory through tours, activities, observing opportunities, and discussions with professional astronomers. In the semester following their workshops, the participants may schedule a videoconference for their class with the Observatory. Other follow-up will be done via electronic mail.

Space Vision

Directed by Dr. Judit Ries of the University of Texas at Austin the Space Vision program will actively engage visually impaired students in inquiry-based, hands-on astronomy activities. To a visually impaired person celestial objects or concepts of space exploration are likely to be more abstract than to other people, but they encounter news about the universe through their daily life. These activities will increase the understanding of space science concepts for the visually impaired and satisfy the interest of students who participate in annual enhancement workshops at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) and their teachers. The experience of the workshop will be translated into instructional classroom activities, which teachers at TSBVI, or any other school with visually impaired students, will be able to incorporate into their regular teaching activities. The activities we chose or designed are such, that it accommodates visually impaired students, but can be used in a regular classroom too. By expanding on the partnership with University of Texas astronomers, educators from the Texas Cooperative Extension Service, Center for Space Research, and Texas Space Grant Consortium's education and outreach staff, hands-on astronomy and solar system activities will be incorporated into the classroom to help students who are visually impaired have the unique opportunity to touch the stars and experience NASA's research and discoveries.

Geographic Information Systems and Space for Educators (GISSE)

Directed by Dr Fred Sedgwick at San Jacinto College GISSE will provide 25 middle school science teachers in eight school districts (four of which have over 50% of their students from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged populations) with the necessary tools to motivate students toward science and space interest. It will (1) give teachers the training and skills needed to integrate into curricula GIS and space-themed components tied to state and national science standards, (2) introduce teachers to and utilize the unique and vast resources produced by NASA available in the Educators Resource Center at Space Center Houston, and (3) promote student inquiry into science and space career paths. Partners include San Jacinto College Aerospace Academy for Engineering and Teacher Education, NASA-Educator Resource Center, Space Center Houston, Galena Park ISD, Pasadena ISD, Sheldon ISD, Channelview ISD, LaPorte ISD, Clear Creek ISD, Deer Park ISD, and Friendswood ISD. Dr. Fred Sedgwick, San Jacinto College South professor, is PI/Instructor, and Dr. Marie Dalton, Executive Vice President of the Aerospace Academy, is the college representative to TSGC.

Stimulating Interest in Space Careers through CricketSat Activities

Directed by Dr. Scott Starks at the University of Texas at El Paso, this project centers on a space-related educational outreach activity by which students can construct a device known as a CricketSat. The CricketSat is a low cost, fully functioning telemetry device that can support actual data collection, recovery, and analysis. The device is similar in its nature and its function to devices found on actual space hardware. Through this grant, kits will be developed that include the electrical components necessary to build the CricketSat device along with experiments that can be conducted once it is constructed. Lesson plans tied to state and national standards will be developed that explain the technology and mathematics used in the activity. These kits are intended to support space-related educational outreach for middle and high school students. Sample kits will be distributed through a network that includes the Texas Space Grant Consortium and the Texas PreFreshman Engineering Program.