Education Trends

Sally Ride’s New Mission: Science Resources That Are Out of This World

June 11, 2008

This is the second post in a two-part entry about astronaut and scientist Sally Ride. Read part one.

A decade after her second spaceflight in 1994, Sally Ride founded ISS EarthKAM in partnership with the University of California at San Diego and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California. The program allows middle school students to take photos by directing digital cameras on space shuttle flights and on the International Space Station.

Educators can also integrate the free curricula into their earth science, mathematics, and geography classrooms. The wonderful How To Materials page provides interactive tutorials on how to locate, print, and annotate images on the EarthKAM Datasystem, conduct investigations of the images, and set scale bars for measuring image features. You can easily access and download PDFs of activities and resources on the Activities page. The EarthKAM Community section allows teachers to share student work samples and send feedback to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration using an online evaluation form.

I have been very impressed for several years with the Totally Amazing Careers book series. The books cover job opportunities in aerospace, the earth sciences, engineering, the environmental sciences, the health sciences, and the space sciences. Each book (all under $7) has the same format: Several current scientists tell their own stories, each on one page, and on each facing page are sections defining what the scientists do and explaining the tools of the trade. Two critical-thinking exercises, one called "What do you think?" are featured, too, as well as a crossword puzzle on key vocabulary terms.

These high-quality color books will fascinate students with their biographies of biomedical engineers, geochemists, climatologists, robotics engineers, ecologists, environmental reporters, marine biologist, biochemists, epidemiologists, neurosurgeons, nutritionists, astronauts, astrobiologists, planetary scientists, space reporters, and many others. Seventy-two highly engaging stories motivate children toward exciting, rewarding, and high-level careers in the sciences. In addition, there is an excellent series of classroom sets. Each focuses on different standards-based science content such as the solar system, astronomy, climate change, and natural resources. And Imaginary Lines, Ride's main company Web site, is like a Christmas catalog -- you will want it all!

I look forward to hearing how you have used these innovative resources or others like them. Please share your thoughts.

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