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SSEP at John Muir

Monday, 07 August 2017 21:52 Written by  Jeanette Todd

SSEP is open to schools and school districts serving grades five through 12 students, as well as two and four year colleges and universities. The program is also open to informal science education organizations and internationally through the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Science Education. Student teams are able to design experiments across diverse fields, including seed germination, crystal growth, physiology and life cycles of microorganisms, cell biology and growth, food studies and studies of micro-aquatic life. Experiments require design to the technology and engineering constraints imposed by the mini-laboratory and flight operations to and from low Earth orbit. “I am so excited to bring this to our kids,” said Principal Dave Whitmore. “It is an unbelievable opportunity. How many people get the chance to design an experiment that goes into space?” Dr. Jeff Goldstein, director of NCESSE said the program inspires critical thinking and problem solving. Student experiments take place on earth and in space in order to compare gravity versus non-gravity results. “By giving the students an actual context to apply what they are learning, we believe the students may stay to make connections that we have not been able to get them to make without an actual context in the past,” the John Muir staff states in the application for the program. “Participation in the SSEP would allow our students to practice higher order thinking skills while using and practicing the scientific method. While in teams, students will design a formal plan using higher order thinking skills,research skills and then write it up using technical writing skills.” The entire John Muir staff and all students will be participating. First up will be getting students excited about space and real-life expectations through a schoolwide contest to design the mission patch, with the winner picked out by a panel. Science teachers will begin the year with a focus on understanding and using the scientific method as well as the importance of technical writing. Lessons will then extend to address the physics, challenges and applications of microgravity, as well as analysis and practice with more specific technical writing. Agriculture scientists from throughout the area, as well as the Kings County Office of Education, will be solicited to help in the endeavor. The $24,000 cost of the project will be paid for through the school district’s Title I funds. “This is a huge honor and opportunity for our middle school students and community,” noted Superintendent Rich Merlo. “The school is among less than 30 communities in North America to be involved in real experiments in real space flight. Congratulations to our leadership and faculty for being selected to create such a powerful, real life, exciting learning environment for Corcoran students.”

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