Shelly Fryer and I have a “slow hunch” that we should start a SPACE CLUB at school.
Shelly and I are both “space geeks” and love sharing “all things space” with our students. My class “Wonder Links” frequently include videos and websites about space and space exploration. This past week, we watched and discussed both the failed Russian Luna 25 mission to the Moon’s south pole, and the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission by India to the lunar south pole in my middle school media literacy classes.
A year and a half ago, in February 2022, Shelly and I both attended the SEEC Conference (Space Exploration Educators’ Conference) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and learned a TON. Now that we live in North Carolina, we’re eyeing both the Space Academy for Educators (in Huntsville, Alabama, in the summer) as well as the Space Port Area Conference for Educators, which is held each June at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
When we attended SEEC 2022, one of the unexpected surprises was running into Mark Wagner. Among many other things, Mark is the founder of ARES Learning (“Academy for the Relentless Exploration of Space,”) and the former “President of Space Prize, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting STEM education and increasing the representation of women in aerospace careers.” He’s the author of the 2022 book, “Space Education: Preparing Students for Humanity’s Multi-Planet Future,” and has been a leader in the area of educational technology (and especially the integration of Google tools into the curriculum) for decades. My personal history with Mark goes back to the blogging days of “The Infinite Thinking Machine,” which was a Google-affiliated innovation team blog to which we both contributed.
Shelly recently contacted Mark about resources for a possible school Space Club, so yesterday after school we hopped on a Zoom call and had a wonderful conversation with Mark, both catching up on his multitude of space education activities as well as learning about a host of resources which we might be able to utilize with our students and possibly in a Space Club.
Space Education Summit: Nov 10, 2023
This is a free, online conference that Mark organizes which features an outstanding array of astronauts, scientists, space professionals, and educators. Registration for this year’s conference is already open, and Shelly and I both plan to participate!
This is a book which Mark co-authored and is available as an “open educational resource” (this means, among other things, it’s free) on the CK-12 platform. It’s a textbook designed for high school students, but can be utilized by both younger as well as older students, and includes a rich array of web-based interactive activities to accompany the text and multimedia content.
The archived recordings from the first 18 speakers of this dynamic series of hour-long presentations organized by Mark are available free. Topics are wide ranging including Astrogeology, Commercial Space in China, Space Broadcasting, Space Entrepreneurship, and more!
These are recorded presentation videos from last year’s Space Education Summit (in 2022) which Mark organizes and facilitates. All the sessions are not included but MANY are, and they are very high quality!
This is a website by Gitika Gorthi, an amazing young female space advocate who went to her first rocket launch in 7th grade. Her connected YouTube channel includes many exceptional interviews with space pioneers, leaders and innovators.
This is a fun book Mark said he listened to last summer with his family on a road trip. It’s science fiction, and is summarized by the publisher as, “It’s one kid versus an entire band of space pirates in this cosmic middle grade caper.”
This is one of Shelly’s favorite books to use as a read-aloud with her elementary students. She’s used it in the past with both third and fifth graders. It’s an imaginative story of AI general intelligence, but rather than dystopian, it’s extremely hopeful and inspiring. Lots of great philosophical as well as scientific and engineering connections to discuss with kids!
This is another of Shelly’s favorite books, but for older students and adults. Andy Weir is the author of “The Martian,” which is a well known movie from 2015 starring Matt Damon. She loves this book!
The Aldrin Family Foundation seeks to “uniquely uncover what resources teachers and educators need to excite their students, meet curricula requirements, and drive toward national standards. Then, we immerse ourselves in the classroom.” Their resources for K-12 classrooms and students include a giant Mars map and giant moon map, and a “Rockets and Rovers” summer camp which can be hosted in your local area.
Space Education Facebook Groups
There are a variety of available Facebook groups for educators interested in space education. These include SPACE (the group for the Kennedy Space Center summer conferences), the Space Exploration Educator’s Conference (SEEC) hosted by JSC in Houston, and Mark Wagner’s Space Educator Group.
While finding these links for this post, I also discovered the North Carolina Space Education Ambassador’s Group, which is connected to the North Carolina Space Grant and the annual North Carolina Space Symposium in Raleigh. These look like great organizations, initiatives and events for Shelly and I to explore as well!
There are SO MANY reasons why studying space, talking about space issues, and both envisioning and working toward a collaborative and sustainable future is ESSENTIAL for us as human beings on planet earth. The “Secure World Foundation,” which Mark mentioned during our Zoom conference Friday, is focused on many of these issues. Its mission is to “work with governments, industry, international organizations, and civil society to develop and promote ideas and actions to achieve the secure, sustainable, and peaceful uses of outer space benefiting Earth and all its peoples.”
Although their website does not seem to cater at this point to K12 learners, the topics and themes of their work would absolutely be engaging and interesting to members of a student Space Club. I can even envision the use of some AI / LLM tools (like ChatGPT and Claude.ai) to re-write some of their materials for upper elementary and middle school reading levels, and then utilize them as the basis for some class or club projects.
I don’t have a timeline for a “Space Club” at our school, but Shelly and I were both invigorated and motivated by our conversation with Mark Wagner on Friday! After attending SEEC together in February 2022, I started a “Space and STEM Resources” website (space.wesfryer.com) to better collect as well as share space education related resources. I’m going to add a link to this post to the site tonight! We’re going to keep dreaming about a Space Club at school, and the ways we can inspire our next generation of leaders in our classrooms today to consider the ways they can help shape our collective future together on earth and in outer space!
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On this day..
- Handy Features of Google Classroom - 2015
- Print over WiFi to Lexmark Printer from Mac Laptop - 2013
- Helping Parents in Prison Connect with their Children - 2011
- Volunteer for #k12online10 - 2010
- Used Access 95 book, anyone? - 2010
- An iPhone-recorded International Cooking Show Episode - 2009
- Media literacy, US Presidential elections, and assertions of infanticide support - 2008
- Podcast enclosure mystery: Help! - 2007
- The Children's Machine - 2006
- Farewell to a good friend - 2005