Nowadays space exploration has gained a lot of attention all over the world. Therefore, in my opinion, the required human resources on this subject should be raised especially from an early age and the approaches of the education system should be organized accordingly. My group of students in this project consists of primary school students identified as gifted. We, my students and myself, are all very curious about space: there are lots of things to explore and many mysteries that make us wonder. Space exploration enables human beings to find out the answers about the Universe and the Solar System. Therefore, I conducted a project called NASAYUS to help my students become more familiar with space.
We, 18 teachers, and our students from Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Macedonia, have carried out this project simultaneously as an eTwinning project called NASAYUS. In our project, we set up 6 different bases on our own. These interconnected bases formed NASAYUS. Each base had its own leader and team. Then we started to perform NASA Best Activities. During all the year our students designed materials needed on the Moon such as Lunar tools, Lunar thermos bottles, crew exploration crafts, and solar oven by doing NASA BEST activities. They made these materials using the STEM engineering design process model. In this way, they increased their science, engineering, and math literacy skills. In addition, they used augmented reality technologies and many web2 tools to learn individually.
As the project idealizer, I carried out the activities with my gifted students (approximately 60 students) at Edirne Şehit Nefise Çetin Özsoy Science and Art Center. The studies were performed by different groups with different aged students in a collaborative way. This was the first experience of my students. Thus, they learned the process of a project. During space week, they have raised their awareness of space researches through a live connection with Dr. Umut YILDIZ, an employee of NASA /JPL Caltech. This meeting has been essential for them to be aware of space studies carried out all over the world on the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. It was important in terms of their future training years and their career plans.
EXPLANATION – OUTCOMES OF THE LESSON
While using the STEM engineering design process, students dealt with the top skills of Bloom taxonomy such as application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation with an integrated approach. By the means of our project, we offered enriched and differentiated activities in our classrooms. The negative attitudes of students such as stubbornness, perfectionism, and impatience turned into positive attitudes during the project. Students learned to collaborate thanks to this project.
A student’s being gifted in the cognitive area does not mean that they are also gifted in terms of ability. My students were weak at this point. For this reason, it was hard to make a design. However, as it was a process of almost a year, and we overcame the difficulties with time and development. I always supported them in the areas they had difficulty with. I emphasized the importance of the process rather than the product. I endeavored for them to understand that Stem Engineering Design Process works by retesting and improvement of a useless product. We had unsuccessful designs/attempts. We turned them into successful ones by redesigning. All these experiences taught us to be patient and creative to solve the problems that we come across in our daily lives. See below some pictures of our project:
MOTIVATION AND GOALS
By performing the activities in this project, our students have fulfilled many outcomes such as designing required materials for an imaginary base on the moon using the resources effectively and limitedly. In addition, they have acquired the 21st century skills such as interdisciplinary, collaboration, creative thinking and using information technologies for their individual learning.
Author: Ayşe Usluer Gül
Ayşe Usluer Gül works as a primary school teacher at Edirne Şehit Nefise Çetin Özsoy Science and Art Center. Her students diagnosed as gifted and are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders. Ayşe regards herself as an innovative teacher. She is interested in coding, Math, STEM Approaches. Her main interests are astronomy, space, and creativity.