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Education Majors Explore Space For New STEM Teaching Tactics

05.19.2014
Harnessed students Ketchem and Byrd repair a spacecraft during an external vehicular activity to simulate the challenges of limited mobility, gravity and the intense heat that astronauts face when in space.

Harnessed students Annabelle Ketchum and Kelsey Byrd repair a spacecraft during an external vehicular activity to simulate the challenges of limited mobility, gravity and the intense heat that astronauts face when in space.

HIGH POINT, N.C., May 19, 2014 – Education majors from High Point University have returned to Earth with new knowledge and teaching tactics surrounding STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – after exploring space education for a week at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

While the eight students and one faculty member never actually left the planet, they did discover what life is like in space and on space shuttle missions. Their work included flight simulations and scuba diving, exploring rocketry, suiting up in certified NASA suits, and completing space missions based on real-life scenarios.

Students Mohlin and Strickler convert fluids into clean water through a multi-step filtration activity.

Students Mohlin and Strickler convert fluids into clean water through a multi-step filtration activity.

The purpose of the trip is to prepare education majors to help their future students understand the relevance of space, space exploration and STEM-related fields in their daily lives.

“When teachers come to the U.S. Space Academy, they are forced to unlearn prior misconceptions, learn new information, and relearn prior information in a very hands-on way,” says Dr. Shirley Disseler, assistant professor in the School of Education. “For me, the important aspect of this trip is witnessing the true compassion for learning come out in HPU students, and watching them build patience, relationships and knowledge in STEM, all through a neutral environment.”

In the top row, pictured from left are John Yankello, Melissa Wagner, Katie McCabe, Sara Mohlin and Allysa Jansen. In the bottom row, pictured from the left are Kelsey Byrd, Jessica Strickler, Dr. Shirley Disseler and Anabelle Ketchum.

In the top row, pictured from left are John Yankello, Melissa Wagner, Katie McCabe, Sara Mohlin and Allysa Jansen. In the bottom row, pictured from the left are Kelsey Byrd, Jessica Strickler, Dr. Shirley Disseler and Annabelle Ketchum.

Six of the eight education majors will be returning to HPU in the fall to complete their fifth year master’s in elementary education, with a concentration in STEM.

“Activities and missions related to space will help us teach in the classroom through role playing to accomplish tasks,” says Jessica Strickler, who graduated from HPU’s middle grades education program on May 3. “For example, NXT robots gave us a task that required each person to use different skills to accomplish the same task. It required each of us to reach the same goal in different ways. It was great practice for differentiation in the classroom with students at various ability levels to be engaged in a way that meets all their needs, whether it’s with gifted, ESL or special education students.”

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