Monday, November 17, 2008

How High Can You Jump on Jupiter?

This past summer our principal went to Brazil as a guest of the Brazilian Department of Education. She had the opportunity to visit several schools and to observe their educational programs. This week some principals from Brazil came to our middle school in New York City to take a look at an urban American public school. Since one of our 6th grade classes was participating in a videoconference with NASA I invited the principals to join the class for the videoconference. So the group of principals, their translator and the participating class learned about "Planet Hopping Through Mathematics" one of the many NASA programs offered free to our schools through the NASA Digital Learning Network. It was great. The students measured how high they could jump on earth using a meter stick. Then through various mathematics formulas they used their calculators to get the jump height on the other planets. Each mathematical calculation was preceded by some interesting facts about the planet they were determining the jump height. The students learned about rings, moons, hurricanes and volcanos on some of the plants. They also got to sharpen math skills like rounding to the nearest hundreth and changing fractions to decimals. Kudos to Karen Ricks our NASA presenter for a program that totally engaged and informed not only the students but the educators in the room too. I would love to videoconference with one of the schools in Brazil my principal visited but I am not sure how much interest there is for purchasing equipment. I couldn't help but think how lucky we are in America to have an agency like NASA to provide programs with such quality science content.