Reps from ESD schools explore future collaboration with the Space Foundation
A group of teachers and administrators traveled to the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs on Thursday to learn about the myriad ways the Space Foundation can help support education efforts for Elizabeth students.
From field trips to programs the Space Foundation can bring to schools, teachers from Running Creek, Singing Hills, Elizabeth Middle School and Elizabeth High School learned how the foundation supports education. It offers curriculum, programs and training in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and 21st century skills -- all in alignment with state education standards. Bobby Gagnon, the foundation's education director emphasized that "space is for everyone."
Gagnon noted that Colorado is, per capita, the leading state in the country for aerospace industry jobs, and every year increasing numbers of startups and existing companies come to Colorado to be at the epicenter for the fast-growing sector.
Three particular programs in the foundation's Leadership Academy received specific focus:
- The Pioneer Space & Earth program introduces students in grades PreK-5 to science topics, problem-solving on Earth and transferring what they learn to a space context.
- The Cadet Space Explorer program is for grades 6-8 and engages students in space technology and exploration, focusing on moon missions, satellites and research.
- The Junior Space Entrepreneur program leads high school students through all the complexities of a Mars mission. Participants also develop their own industry business based on what they learn about Mars and space commerce.
The ESD delegation learned about opportunities for high school students to earn college credit as well as career and technical education options that can set up students to enter the aerospace workforce directly after graduation. The foundation also supports community education events, teacher development through weeklong education programs, and a liaison program which provides high-profile access to the space industry.
The Elizabeth group concluded its visit by trying out an educational role-playing lesson toolkit disguised as a game. The game, developed by Space Foundation staff, provides exposure to the wide variety of career options -- including some that most people wouldn't necessarily connect to space. Students pick role cards for themselves and then work together as a team to solve a choose-your-own-adventure style challenge such as figuring out why vegetables aren't growing well inside a moon base.