From the Earth, to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

The Science Department Welcomes Cobb Teachers to the Problem-Based Learning Space Innovation Academy

A group of 25 science and math teachers gathered at Campbell Middle School this month for the first of four professional development sessions centered on problem-based learning with space-themed science integration.  Teachers selected for this academy have the opportunity to learn new approaches to teaching earth, life, and physical science using the topic of Space to engage their students.  An important part of the PBL Space Innovation Academy is learning how to utilize technology such as modular electronics that will help develop critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity in their classroom environment.  During the session, teachers learned from experts from the Georgia Tech School of Aerospace Engineering how to assemble Xinabox sensors to create a weather station to take data from atmospheric conditions around the school.  Xinabox produces a range of 80+ modular “xChips”, which includes cores/CPUssensorspowercommunicationoutput, and storage.  xChips can be clipped together using a connectivity standard without wires, soldering or breadboards.  Using this technology will help students complete an earth science PBL unit focused on answering the question:  How do weather conditions affect launch windows? This unit was developed around the O-ring collapse phenomenon during the Challenger mission explosion in 1986. 

Later in the day, teachers assembled model rockets to explore the phenomenon of different masses on force and motion as it relates to rocket launches.  The highlight of the day was hearing from STEM professionals in the field that have careers related to space and rocketry.  Brigadier General Damon Feltman from U.S. Space Command spoke to the teachers about his career and the different projects that he has worked on from Global Positioning Systems to launching satellites to help with space security.  In addition, the Ramblin’ Wreck Rocket Team from Georgia Tech presented to teachers their amazing story from the Spaceport America Cup Rocket Competition and brought in their 13.5-foot, 110-pound rocket for teachers to see.  The day ended with teachers collaborating on how they could best implement the ideas and activities shared throughout the day.

From rocket launches to weather stations, this academy will help teachers rethink the way they are teaching science through purposeful planning and collaboration with NASA experts, and aerospace engineers in the field at Georgia Tech and throughout the U.S at different NASA facilities by connecting students with real-world STEM career experts.  The CCSD PBL Space Innovation Academy will meet four times throughout the academic school year with each day centered around a different theme of space exploration such as the Moon, Mars, and Beyond. 

Christian Cali, Supervisor

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