My students need four globes and a little fictional inspiration for an enriching Planetary Science unit.
Hooray! This project is fully funded
Hooray! This project is fully funded
Do we get to experiment? Can we go on a field trip? Imagine a science classroom without investigations and/or field trips. Due to decreased funding faced by the Boston Public Schools, there are fewer resources to truly engage young minds in science and engineering.
My 125 science students are inquisitive Boston Latin Academy 8th graders of diverse backgrounds hailing from every corner of Boston: Mattapan, Brighton, Charlestown, Field's Corner, the North End, Hyde Park, etc.
Not only do they travel to BLA from all over the city, they also speak a variety of languages including Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, and Albanian. Boston Latin Academy is an exam school for grades 7-12, which means my students tested higher than most of their peers in the city. All 1,800 BLA students are leaders in the Boston Public Schools already, yet have less access to resources than top-rated schools (non-urban) in Massachusetts. Access to resources is key for student engagement and preparation for college.
These budding scientists ask questions that could be answered with more resources. BLA 8th grade science students want to experience the world beyond their urban setting; as their teacher, I want to provide those experiences to them.
Earth versus Mars? 4 globes + 30 fictional books? There may seem to be a lot of empty space (pun intended) between these planets and these classroom resources, but they are all infinitely connected. In our current unit, Planetary Science, students must come to understand concepts such as vast distances in space, seasons on Earth, and the impact of human activities on our planet.
Wouldn't a couple of globes be useful to studying the seasons on Earth?
Globes in a science classroom are a natural fit. In this unit, four globes are essential models to "seeing" the seasons with each globe having the same tilt as the appear to orbit the Sun in the middle. Globes are useful models for understanding not only seasons, but finding location using coordinates, comparing climates for locations across the Earth, and differentiating between rotation and revolution.
Furthermore, how could relevant fiction elevate interest in space? Andy Weir's book "The Martian" has recently been edited into a classroom version fit for students. This piece of fiction is a natural fit for an 8th grade classroom with curriculum focused on biology, astronomy, and chemistry. In a New York Times article dated February 24, 2017, author Alexandra Alter shared book-based curriculum and experiments from across the country. All teachers professed one common result: student engagement. By using this book as a supplement to drier textbooks available, students might take more of an interest in science class. Also, "The Martian" will help to bridge the gap to an interdisciplinary unit with E/LA focused on urban farming and food. Paired with last year's Donor's Choose aquaponics systems and "The Omnivore's Dilemma", students will get model farming like "The Martian" main character, Mark Watney.
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