A New Opportunity for Your Students to Be Real Scientists on the International Space Station – (No We’re Not Sending Them into Orbit … Unless)

 Posted by DrJeff on November 23rd, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog



Click on the image and feel the magic. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio on EVA outside the International Space Station, August 15, 2007. Visit the NASA Human Spaceflight Image Gallery for more information.


Those of you following this blog know that a core philosophy I embrace is that science education—indeed all education—should be about exploration owned by the learner, and as teachers and parents our charge is to light their way. It is something I believe deeply.


I’ve had the distinct honor of sharing that philosphy this past year with thousands of educators at conferences, e.g., the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference. In order to reach an even wider audience, I’m grateful that John Boswell at Symphony of Science was able to turn my thoughts and words at NSTA into a music video We’ve Got to Be That Light. How he took a guy speaking in the front of an audience and turned it into something you’d want to upload to your music library is pretty magical. If you’ve not seen the music video yet, take a look. If you have seen it, and you’re a teacher that needs to decompress a bit over Thanksgiving and a shot in the arm before returning to work might help, take another look.


Those that preach have an obligation to put their words into practice. It’s the “put up or shut up” argument. If one complains about something, in this case the state of education, then either demonstrate a fix or don’t complain. So I’m listening … to myself. If education is about ownership in learning, then science education ought to be about ownership in science—experiences that allow students the ability to truly be scientists. And I firmly believe that if you give a 5th grader the ability to do real science, all you need do is gently guide, get out of the way … and be amazed.


So I created the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), a true STEM education initiative that is designed to immerse students in real science, and along the way, engage their entire community. In this context, there is another deeply held belief at work—it takes a community to educate a child and a network of communities to reach a generation.

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NASA Honors the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

 Posted by DrJeff on July 14th, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


Photocaption: Vehicle Asembly Building (VAB) during the final mission of the Space Shuttle program (STS-135).  Photo by Eric S. Ackerman. CLICK FOR ZOOM


This past year has been a humbling experience for me, the staff of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the thousands of students and teachers in the 27 communities participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). Enabled by a Space Act Agreement between NASA and NanoRacks, LLC, we’ve all had the adventure of a lifetime. We’ve had the distinct honor of being part of history, and part of the 30 year legacy of the United States Space Shuttle program. The Space Shuttle, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—both national treasures—stand for what is a fundamental regarding the nature of our existence—our need to know, to question, to push the boundaries of what is familiar, and to broaden our understanding of ourselves. Anyone witnessing the final Shuttle launch on July 8 at Kennedy Space Center (I was lucky enough) could not help but be overwhelmed by what we have done as a nation of spacefarers, and realize that the dawn of a new era is at hand. To all those that are participating in SSEP, you need to know that you are helping to blaze a trail into that new era, and there has been no bigger supporter of your achievements than NASA. With the 27 experiments aboard Endeavour and Atlantis, selected from over 1,000 student team proposals, you, the next generation, are the link between a celebrated past and a future in space exploration that is only now being written. And this remarkable journey we’ve been on together? It has really been about celebrating the past, embracing the present, and inspiring the future. Isn’t that what learning and exploration are all about?

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