(This is a guest post by Dr. Larry Lebofsky of the Planetary Science Institute, one of our CosmoQuest partners)
SCIENCE FAIRS: Exploring the Solar System and Beyond is a professional development program that focuses on helping teachers attain the needed content knowledge and skills to support creation of meaningful science fair research projects. This includes supporting teachers’ understanding of how to engage students in age-appropriate projects as young science and engineering professionals.
If successful, students will create their own understanding of STEM content through hands-on activities and research. This occurs when students are guided into learning where they become involved at a level that makes it possible for them to independently ask questions and investigate answers by seeking patterns, testing, building conceptual models, and/or designing technology.
Through a comprehensive program of curriculum development, educator professional development, and building strategic partnerships, we will increase the number and quality of space science related science fair projects in the United States.
In our first workshop, teachers were given background information on we have learned about the Solar System via ground-based telescopes and NASA missions and then the teachers built their own exploration vehicles. They then went back and had their elementary and middle school students investigate a Solar System body and design their own vehicle. This then opens the way for further investigations and potential science fair projects.