Center Director Dr. Jeff Goldstein will be conducting a live webcast for Challenger Center for Space Science Education at 1:00 pm EDT, Thursday, April 29, 2010. You are invited to participate. The webcast is free and open to the public. For more information visit the webcast page at Challenger Center.

If you are a teacher, please read the note from Dr. Jeff below on how you can weave the webcast into lessons in the classroom.

Webcast Title: Dr. Jeff on How We Explore the Universe, the Power of Models, and Good Science Education (Dr. Jeff on Stuff)

Description: It’s a big, often intimidating universe out there. How do we – scientists and students alike – even begin to fathom objects and distances that dwarf anything we’ve ever experienced? You might memorize all the facts and figures—our galaxy possesses 100 billion stars, our Sun is 93,000,000 miles away. But where’s the learning? The numbers are big, impersonal—even irrelevant. Alternately, you might construct a simpler world view with Earth, our Sun, some neighboring planets and stars adrift in an endless ocean of space. But both approaches do a disservice to the majesty of the cosmos. Earth’s place in space – our place – IS knowable in a tangible way, even for elementary school students. The secret is placing the universe in a context that is familiar. You’re not convinced? Come and explore your universe with Dr. Jeff. To make his point, he’ll use content from his Blog on the Universe to take you where you’ve never been (even though you thought you’ve been there many times.)

A note from Dr. Jeff—
If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in science and science education. Welcome! I’m truly honored to have been asked to do this webcast by Rita Karl, Challenger Center’s Director of Education. I was at Challenger Center Headquarters for 8 years, departing in 2005 as the Executive Director for Space Science Education and Research. It’s wonderful to continue to be part of the Challenger Center family. Its network of 47 Learning Centers reaches over 400,000 students annually, and is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers—something I feel is vitally important for the future of America—and Learning Center staff are the most dedicated science educators you’d ever have the good fortune to meet.

This webcast is for anyone who gets joy from learning about our place in space. I think it is particularly good for teachers of science and their classes.

Teachers can leverage this webcast with lessons in the classroom based on my Blog on the Universe Posts and Resource Pages. I write them to be ‘evergreen’—timeless essays that address conceptual understanding of some facet of the universe. Teachers can also put to work the formal grade K-12 lessons on Solar System science developed for the Voyage scale model Solar System exhibition.

So here are some ideas for classroom integration of the webcast:

Check out this Recommended Reading List for the Blog’s essays by content area, together with essential questions.

Visit the Teachers Lesson Planner at the Blog, which provides the concepts, objectives, and math skills for the Posts, and how to use the Posts as lessons in the classroom.

For great background before the webcast, read my essays The Power of Models, and The Nature of Our Existence.

Explore my favorite quotes from explorers and astronauts with your class. Read them together and discuss their meaning.

Have your kids explore the question How far is Outer Space?

Explore a powerful model for Earth and its atmosphere, and do a hands-on activity.

Explore what it would take to giftwrap the Moon, and build an Earth-Moon model in your classroom.

Explore the nature of the Solar System with your class (Grade 5-8 Lesson 1 on this page), and lay out a Voyage one to 10-billion scale model Solar System in a nearby park (Grade 5-8 Lesson 2 on this page).

Check out all the grade K-12 lessons (downloadable free) that were developed for the Voyage exhibition.

Finally, for teachers everywhere, I wrote the essay The Art of Teaching for all of you. It is a thank you to those that practice the noblest profession—those that prepare our children to take the helm of the human race.

Think about:
Subscribing to Our Newsletter for email notification of new program opportunities and news here at the Center.
Reading about Blog on the Universe and subscribing at Blog on the Universe to keep up with Dr. Jeff, and for email notification of new Blog Posts. 

About Dr. Jeff Goldstein: Jeff writes Blog on the Universe, a site dedicated to science education as conceptual understanding at an emotional level, using the interdisciplinary subjects of Earth and Space. Jeff is no stranger to modeling in both science and science education. For his planetary research he designed and built laser systems for infrared heterodyne spectrometers that were used to measure the global winds of Venus and Mars using large Earth-based telescopes. The instrument is capable of measuring gentle breezes on a planet over 100 million miles away. But to interpret the data, he needed to build computer models of a planet’s global winds in order to compare modeled winds to the observed.

In science education, Jeff has been working for over 25 years on making science concepts understandable to grade K-16 students, teachers, families, and the public through the power of models. For 19 years, he has been a presenter at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum for Family Science Night where typical audiences of 400 take a journey through the cosmos through an array of presentations relying on the power of models. He was also the NASA Principal Investigator and Project Director for the design and placement of the Voyage Scale Model Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC, which included the development of a powerful compendia of Grade K-12 lessons on Solar System science and exploration—all built from the ground up from National Science Education Standards and the power of models. The Center’s MESSENGER Fellows train 3,000 teachers a year on the use of these lessons. Jeff was also the author for the Voyage exhibition’s storyboards on the National Mall.

Dr. Jeff will be using the power of models in his keynote address in October for the National Science Teachers Association’s Conference in Kansas City, one of now four sites across the U.S. that has permanently installed a Voyage scale mode Solar system. Visit photo-albums of Voyage in Kansas City, Washington, DC, Corpus Christi, and Houston. Dr Jeff’s full bio can be found at Blog on the Universe.

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), a Project of the Tides Center, creates and oversees national initiatives addressing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, with a focus on earth and space. Programs are designed to provide an authentic window on science as a human endeavor, and to inspire … then educate. Read about the Center, our core beliefs, and our pedagogical approach to science education.

To explore bringing one of our programs to your community, visit our To Earth and Beyond page.

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