Over the past twelve years, I have participated in several wonderful seminars developing innovative curriculum units to supplement my teachings. These projects have motivated my students and myself to investigate new and exciting areas of learning. In recent years, we have explored African-American studies in art, literature and poetry, highlighting the contributions of Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Paul Laurence Dunbar. In the sciences, we have created marvelous units which focused on the Wright Brothers and their aerodynamic discoveries and inventions.
This year I am developing a unit entitled “Out-of-this-World Experiments” which will introduce our students to the early years of our space program allow them the opportunity to share in the excitement of going to and landing on the Moon, and help them to understand the scientific achievements that are being accomplished on the Space Shuttle voyages.
As my unit develops, we will focus on numerous scientific research experiments which have been conducted on space shuttles dating back to the early 1980’s, especially as to those which were related to micro-gravity sciences Other experiments will be discussed such as astrophysics, space plasma physics and Earth and planetary observations.
Our unit will conclude with a discussion of future space exploration and research; that is, we will examine the design, development, operation and utilization of the International Space Station, its current cost factor and future growth expenditures, and the positive and negative rationales of this most expensive proposition. The ultimate question remains... Is this project worth $100 billion dollars plus and could the appropriated monies be better spent serving science and mankind in some other capacity.
My curriculum unit will assist me, in many ways in my classroom. At Clemente school, our comprehensive school plan strongly emphasizes reading, writing and cognitive skill development. Students will be challenged with oral and silent readings, especially as they relate to individual space shuttle missions. To date, ninety such missions have been flown, each with a payload variety of experiments being conducted. Each student will be charged with researching specific data as it relates to individual missions. Launch dates crew members, time duration, and payload experiments would number among their responsibilities.
As I have previously noted, our curriculum will be taught utilizing an interdisciplinary approach. Students will monitor NASA and Soviet press releases in our computer labs, Daily logs will be recorded, with critical information to be disseminated to our students weekly by our designated lab technicians. In Language Arts, students will be encouraged to correspond with students from the fifteen other countries who are collaboratively developing the International Space Station. Responses from these “fellow junior scientists” will be shared as well. In Social Studies, chronological time lines will be developed, citing critical accomplishments to date. In Science classes, our students will gain hands-on experience as they participate in “Free Fall” experiments which will help to explain micro-gravity concepts. This understanding will help them to comprehend the challenges facing our astronauts and our space scientists as they go about their daily business in outer space. Hopefully, our students will develop a richer understanding of the heroic accomplishments of these people and, in turn, applaud their perseverance.