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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Forest Lake Elementary School

Grades K-5 | Columbia, SC

NASA Resources Enrich STEM Curricula at Forest Lake Elementary

Being a NASA Explorer School allows Forest Lake Elementary to deepen the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula with technology tools and resources.

NASA Resources Enrich STEM Curricula at Forest Lake Elementary (Transcript)

Ready to hold your invention?


You see it everywhere, on the walls in the hallway, in classrooms, and on the lab coats teachers wear every day: the distinctive branding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Good Morning, Forest Lake.

Good morning.

Forrest Lake Elementary was one of 150 schools across the country to be selected for the NASA Explorer Schools Program. Designed to spark interest and achievement in math, science, and technology, the program provided grants for technology tools, summer teacher workshops, curriculum materials, and ongoing professional development.

Our focus is on twenty-first century learners. We know that for our students to be prepared, they need all that we can provide in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and NASA seemed like a perfect fit.

We thank you. As you all know-

It's no accident that the school's TV studio looks a little like Cape Canaveral. And this morning's broadcast featured a first grade team of inventors who came up with a new twist on the old drinking fountain just in time for flu season.

Well the Sani-Sipper, there's a tube that hooks up to this nozzle and it has a detector causing the sanitizer to clean it at every use.

Beyond the curriculum materials and grant money, the association with NASA helps the school build a sense of purpose.

We are very proud to be a NASA Explorer School and so a lot of things that a lot of teachers use as really good practices in their classroom to create a classroom community I've just tried to give a NASA spin. So the copilot's responsibilities are to assist me. Anything that I need done, they do. I've got a communications officer and she's responsible for passing out papers and taking papers back in again. An environmental officer maintains the cleanliness of the classroom so it creates a bond in the community.

We are using videoconference equipment to connect to NASA Langley.

Students in an after-school program have direct access to NASA personnel in Langley, Virginia via a videoconference.

Our mission is the superabsorbent polymers.

Today they are sharing findings of their experiments with a polymer used to keep diapers dry.

The first step was I put them in different cups. One was polymer, one what they did with the Dr. Pepper, one they did with the cranberry juice, and the other they did with the low-fat milk.

I wanted to think of something that they could maybe have in their everyday life but had never thought too much about the science behind it.

What attracted you to do this type of experiment?

It just sort of happened that all girls came together. I know that there's been some research and some talk about how girls and science, they kind of fall behind and let the boys sort of take over. And with it being an all-girls group some of them have stepped up a little more than they would have if we were mixed in here with the boys.

Like when you think of a girl you think oh yeah, oh nails. But like what we- but in this we can be ourselves and like we can get down and get messy.

It's really cool to me to be able to work with real people that are actually experienced and I kind of want to be an engineer there because my grandfather was an engineer with NASA.

It's really exciting working with NASA and all my friends working with NASA, it's really fun.

Like many institutions, NASA has been forced to make cuts in its Explorer Schools Program, but it continues to offer free curriculum materials on its website helping to fuel a passion for science and service.

I always wanted to help people and be a surgeon or a doctor, and so I'm like I really like NASA and so I'm thinking about being- I want to be a doctor there.

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Video Credits

Produced, Written and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis


  • Karen Sutherland

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely

Camera Crew

  • Michael Epstein
  • Perry Goodfriend

Video Programming Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy


  • Michael Pritchard

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Support for Edutopia's Schools That Work series is provided, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Editor's Note: NASA has re-invented its free Explorer Schools program for grades 4-12. While registration is not currently open, they offer STEM curricula and additional resources for students and teachers on their educational website.

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