Mar 13, 2017

NASA Comes to Normal

What do an Oceanographer, Business Manager, and Education Specialist have in common?  They all work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) at NASA and recently participated in a video conference session with a class of fifth graders at Sugar Creek Elementary!  The NASA professionals shared their experiences on the Mars rover program and fielded questions filled with excitement from eleven year olds for almost a full hour.  The experience was a demonstration of the immense educational potential when solid pedagogy and technology combine forces!

Mr. Green (left) and Mr. Tavernier (right)

For this project, NASA had us use a screen sharing extension for Chrome called Vidyo. If you are looking into setting up a similar experience, this service could easily be replaced with Google Hangouts. Even though we had no prior experience with Vidyo, it was a snap to set up and get running. So if you contact a group who wants you to use a unique conferencing software, do not let it scare you off!

Microscopic Rock Analysis
Once connected, the folks at NASA spoke to us personally, shared video clips, microscope imagery, and presentation slides. They interacted with the students via a simple webcam setup on our end. And most importantly, they inspired the students to ask questions, embrace failure, and pursue their passions!

I want to extend a special thank you to Shannon Green, an Illinois Wesleyan University clinical student whose father is the "Mr. Green" pictured above. This collaboration would not have happened without her willingness to reach out and initiate the connection. Additionally, thank you to Jennifer Stolbom and all of the amazing students in her fifth grade classroom who participated in the video conference. Their enthusiasm and inquisitive nature were truly a pleasure to witness.

Recorded via Screencastify. Audio on the classroom side is unavailable.

*Note retyped
*Thank you for setting up everything so we could talk to the scientists!  We think it was really cool that we got the chance to talk with real NASA and JPL scientists.  Thank you for taking time out of your dat to help us.  Thank you for helping us learn about Mars!  We really liked it when they showed us the rocks, the actual pictures of the rover and the pictures that the rover took.  The videos they showed us were also very interesting.  It was neat that they showed us all the different rovers that are on Mars right now and gave us information about each of them.  This has inspired many of us to want to go into science careers, and to never stop asking questions.  The students of 5S at Sugar Creek Elementary would like to give you a HUGE THANK YOU!

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