918 Views
  1. Lance Bush
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lancebush/
  3. President & CEO
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Challenger Center
  1. Cheryl Burris
  2. Program Director, Education
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Challenger Center
  1. Valerie Fitton-Kane
  2. Vice President, Development, Partnerships, & Strategy
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Challenger Center
  1. Lauren Goff
  2. Program Director, Education
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Challenger Center
  1. Denise Kopecky
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/denise-kopecky-0844a2115/
  3. Vice President, Education
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Challenger Center
  1. Katie O'Hara
  2. Manager, Communications
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Challenger Center
  1. Lisa Vernal
  2. Vice President, Communications
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Challenger Center
  1. Candice Woods
  2. Manager, Development and Partnerships
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Challenger Center

Activating Student Potential through Innovation and Real-World Experience

NSF Awards: 1759320

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6

For the last 35 years, Challenger Center, a leading STEM education organization has delivered hands-on space simulations at our Challenger Learning Centers. Through our ITEST project called ASPIRE, we took the unique elements of our program model and developed an experience for fourth and fifth grade students that can be delivered in classrooms. These Classroom Adventures are aligned to NGSS and Common Core standards. We empower students to play the part of real STEM professionals.  

We purposefully include characters in the program that mirror the diverse population of our country. This way, minority students participating in these programs see a character that looks just like them. They can now picture themselves playing those roles in real life.

Data from pilot studies shows that Classroom Adventures are deeply engaging for students and that they are increasing students’ self-concept in science and self-efficacy in science. 

Classroom Adventures was designed for an in-person student experience. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to transition to virtual and hybrid learning, Challenger Center pivoted delivery of our programs. We used what we created for Classroom Adventures and evolved it into a new, similar program called Virtual Missions.

Specifically, we altered the Classroom Adventures technology platform to include videoconferencing, and then built adventures that could be run with students that are not co-located in a classroom. We now have two Virtual Missions for 5th to 8th grade students called Destination Mars and Destination Moon.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (32 posts)
  • Icon for: Lance Bush

    Lance Bush

    Lead Presenter
    President & CEO
    May 11, 2021 | 08:48 a.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to watch our video!  Initial data from pilot studies shows our Classroom Adventures are deeply engaging for students and that they are increasing students’ self-concept in science and self-efficacy in science. Though the effects of COVID-19 delayed our launch of Classroom Adventures, it allowed us to pivot to Virtual Missions. We’re excited to get these programs into schools and give students these experiences.

    Each Adventure takes teachers and students through a three-part program, comprised of a simulation, engineering activity, and writing exercise. Because our programs are designed by teachers for teachers, we’d love to hear feedback from educators specifically, however we welcome all feedback and questions.

    Questions for teachers:

    • What features of Classroom Adventures and Virtual Missions excite you the most?
    • Could you see yourself implementing these programs in your curriculum?
    • Do you have any questions about Classroom Adventures of Virtual Missions?
     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sabrina De Los Santos
    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Dionne Champion

    Dionne Champion

    Facilitator
    Research Assistant Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 12:08 p.m.

    Great video! Thanks for sharing  your project. We have all been dealing as best we can with the fallout from the pandemic, including for many STEM educators, the transition from in-person to virtual programming. It can be especially challenging for programs that rely on experiential and hands-on learning. What do you think you have gained and lost by shifting from an in-person format to a virtual format?

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
    Katie O'Hara
    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Denise Kopecky

    Denise Kopecky

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Education
    May 11, 2021 | 10:49 p.m.

    Dionne- thank you for your question! The transition from in-person to virtual was a journey for all educators and organizations. As we planned our virtual experiences, we intentionally planned for the virtual environment- an unpredictable place where learners have unknown distractions, technical challenges, and a different experience connecting with others. Learners thrive in environments where they can collaborate with peers, take risks, and problem solve. While we lost the ability to plan for common supplies or the classroom environment, we gained the ability to virtually engage learners in real-world problem solving, career connections, and meaningful peer-to peer relationship building. Many educators have commented on the high level of engagement they’ve seen when learners are all on a mission together- and they all contribute to its success!

  • Icon for: Sabrina De Los Santos

    Sabrina De Los Santos

    Facilitator
    Research and Development Associate
    May 11, 2021 | 07:29 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful project and video! It was great to hear the teacher speak about the benefits of the project for her students. In what ways have teachers integrated the Classroom Adventures program into their curriculum? Do you provide follow-up activities or guidelines to continue the conversation around the engineering activities beyond their participation in the program?

     
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    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Denise Kopecky

    Denise Kopecky

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Education
    May 11, 2021 | 11:02 p.m.

    Thank you for your question Sabrina! Classroom Adventures features three distinct parts:

    1. The Simulation (Adventure)

    Learners are introduced to the science topic, play a specific role as a scientist, engineer, other STEM professional, and help solve a problem presented to them. The simulation is designed to introduce a science unit in an elementary school classroom and is aligned to NGSS standards for grades 3-5.  The Adventure becomes the common experience that educators can refer back to and use as a thread for conversation throughout the unit they are teaching.

    1. Engineering Activity

    Learners are presented with an engineering activity that relates to the Adventure they participated in. We provide resources for the teacher to use while introducing the engineering design cycle, provide constraints for the design, and suggest easily obtainable supplies such as recyclable materials commonly found in classrooms. Teachers may choose when to incorporate this activity and often choose to use it in the middle of their science unit.

    1. Non-fiction Science Writing Activity

    Learners have a choice of three different types of non-fiction writing to choose from for each Adventure. Challenger Center provides supports for the teacher and learners with graphic organizers and writing examples. Teachers may choose when to incorporate this activity and often choose to use it at the end of their science unit when learner have a broader understanding of the topic.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sabrina De Los Santos
  • Icon for: Remy Dou

    Remy Dou

    Facilitator
    Assistant Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 08:05 p.m.

    Comment: I'm loving the comment made in the video about providing "mirrors rather than windows" into STEM professions. As a researcher who explores the development of young people's science identities, I'm encouraged by the language and focus of this work on developing youths' perceptions of themselves in STEM contexts. 

    Questions: In thinking about the various ways young people identify and the complex interactions between their racial, cultural, gender, and science identities, I wonder in what ways programs like this one widen the mirror, sort to speak, to reflect the beliefs and aims of diverse individuals within the "content" and "aims" of the curriculum. In other words, how have you (or others) incorporated the beliefs and ways of being of diverse youths into the very fabric of the experience? What lessons learned can be shared that others can adopt or what practices should be avoided?

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
  • Icon for: Denise Kopecky

    Denise Kopecky

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Education
    May 11, 2021 | 11:16 p.m.

    Remy- thank you for your question!

    It is incredibly important to Challenger Center as an organization to meet all learners where they are- culturally, developmentally, and geographically. We want to ensure that when we design our experiences that learners are able to see themselves in the place of, or relate to, the STEM professionals we feature. Beyond our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, one of the most impactful ways we have found to engage learners to embrace their science identity is through role-play. We put learners in the role of a STEM professional to successfully complete their mission. Each learner has a role to play and they bring their unique background to that role. Learners are engaged when they are a part of the process and have an important and authentic job to do.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Ashley Wall

    Ashley Wall

    K-12 Teacher
    May 12, 2021 | 01:24 p.m.

    These simulations look so interactive and engaging. I would love to use these virtual adventures in my own classroom!

     
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    Katie O'Hara
  • Icon for: Katie O'Hara

    Katie O'Hara

    Co-Presenter
    Manager, Communications
    May 12, 2021 | 04:49 p.m.

    Hi Ashley, thanks for taking the time to watch our video, we're so glad you're interested in our Virtual Missions! If you head to our website and fill out the brief form at the bottom of this page, one of our Flight Directors will reach out to you shortly with more information about the programs. 

  • Icon for: Christina Gardner-McCune

    Christina Gardner-McCune

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 07:44 p.m.

    This is such a great project! It is great to bring the museum experience into the classroom!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Katie O'Hara
  • Icon for: Eric Hamilton

    Eric Hamilton

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2021 | 01:06 a.m.

    Dear STEM Challenger team,

    Thank you for your work and an inspiring video.  With your transition to virtual, I am intrigued about whether it is possible to enact the project in virtual collaboration settings more generally, and specifically, in the kind of collaboration we manage with school partners internationally.  If you get a chance, let me know how you might size up that possibility, and many thanks.

  • Icon for: Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Development, Partnerships, & Strategy
    May 17, 2021 | 04:30 p.m.

    Yes, this is the shift we made during COVID. We now have the ability to deliver live simulation-based experiences to groups of people scattered across the U.S. and even the world -- and we are doing it! 

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Eric Hamilton
  • Icon for: Eric Hamilton

    Eric Hamilton

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2021 | 04:44 p.m.

    Ok, we will try to seek out your project for possible connection.  Many thanks :)

  • Icon for: Jessica Moon

    Jessica Moon

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2021 | 08:32 a.m.

    This sounds like an amazing program! As a teacher, I was able to use many virtual simulations, like Gizmos, in my classroom on a daily basis, whereas we wouldn't have been able to go on field trips or have visitors do a program like this very frequently. Have you found that when adding the virtual Classroom Adventures you were able to expand the reach of your program?

  • Icon for: Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Development, Partnerships, & Strategy
    May 17, 2021 | 04:29 p.m.

    Yes! We are in process of starting to roll out Classroom Adventures and already, we are reaching students in places where we've never been able to serve students before. It's been thrilling to have students experience our programs in states where we have no physical presence. We are scaling up now and can't wait until the day we go from inspiring 250,000 students annually to millions annually.

  • May 14, 2021 | 12:33 p.m.

    What a great program!  This is near and dear to my heart as well.  We do so much want to give everyone a chance to be inspired.

  • Icon for: Lisa Vernal

    Lisa Vernal

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Communications
    May 17, 2021 | 02:37 p.m.

    Couldn't agree more. Giving students that "aha" moment when they realize they CAN be a scientist or an engineer. Or simply showing them why that math skill is important in real life.

  • Icon for: Alexandra Puritz

    Alexandra Puritz

    Exploration Education Program Manager
    May 14, 2021 | 02:31 p.m.

    Love the work you all are doing!

  • Icon for: Lisa Vernal

    Lisa Vernal

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Communications
    May 17, 2021 | 02:35 p.m.

    Thanks for checking out our video, Alexandra! We're glad you love our work.

  • Icon for: Saira Mortier

    Saira Mortier

    Research Coordinator
    May 14, 2021 | 03:56 p.m.

    So important. Thank you for your work on STEM equity.

  • Icon for: Lisa Vernal

    Lisa Vernal

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Communications
    May 17, 2021 | 02:34 p.m.

    Thanks, Saira. We're proud of this work and agree that it's critical to provide these opportunities to all students.

  • May 15, 2021 | 06:16 p.m.

    Excellent work. So useful and much needed. 

  • Icon for: Lisa Vernal

    Lisa Vernal

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Communications
    May 17, 2021 | 02:33 p.m.

    Thanks, Kauser. We appreciate your comment!

  • Icon for: Haley Smith

    Haley Smith

    Graduate Student
    May 16, 2021 | 07:43 p.m.

    Such amazing and important work that you all do! I am curious about what thought has been given to whether/how virtual programming may be continued or even expanded post-pandemic and whether you see that as an avenue for reaching more students than before, for example including those who may not have a Challenger center within field-trip distance? 

  • Icon for: Lisa Vernal

    Lisa Vernal

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Communications
    May 17, 2021 | 02:33 p.m.

    Hi Haley! Thanks for the comment and question. We started developing Classroom Adventures for that exact reason - to reach more students. And we anticipate that our Virtual Missions will continue to be used post-pandemic as well. At the end of the day, our goal is to inspire as many students as possible, so we're always looking for ways to increase our reach!

  • Icon for: H Chad Lane

    H Chad Lane

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2021 | 11:44 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful and important work!  I've long admired the Challenger Centers across our country and the unique learning experiences they provide. I was also excited to hear about your work to provide remote learning opportunities during the pandemic. In our work we have also leveraged space/astronomy as a way to engage kids in STEM and work to broaden participation. We have found the big questions about Earth and Moon (how they formed for example) and the search for habitable planets to be particularly engaging - kids can return to our Minecraft server at any time and find new worlds to explore, habitats to build, etc. I wonder what strategies you use to keep kids engaged beyond their mission experience?  Could the work you are doing now with virtual/remote learning be leveraged as a way to strengthen long-term engagement with kids with this strategy?  Thanks again for your inspiring and meaningful work!

  • Icon for: Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Development, Partnerships, & Strategy
    May 17, 2021 | 04:25 p.m.

    Hello Chad, Thank you for your comment! For most missions, we include post-mission resources for educators that are designed to empower students (and educators) to go deeper on specific topics covered in the mission or on careers that were introduced in the mission. At this stage, we have multiple missions, scaffolded at different age levels, which enables a student to have multiple mission experiences with us over time. In addition, the storyline for our first Virtual Mission, Destination Mars, is positioned as a "pre-quel" to our Center Mission, Expedition Mars, enabling students to "continue the story." It's not required to do both, but if students experience both in sequence, they will have chosen the Mars moon from which to explore Mars ... and then actually explored Mars from that moon! So, yes, we agree: The new virtual options will enable us to extend learning well beyond the Center-based missions we've been known for over the last 35 years. 

  • Icon for: James Callahan

    James Callahan

    Informal Educator
    May 17, 2021 | 04:54 p.m.

    Big thank you to the Challenger Learning Centers!  The CLC's are truly a national treasure!

    We are fortunate to have one in Oakland, California -- at Chabot Space and Science Center.

    https://chabotspace.org/education/challenger/

    Chabot Space and Science Center is where ClimateChangeEducation.org began in 1999. I was among the volunteers who worked with staff to start the Earth and Environmental Science program.  It wasn't just the science center in general, but the Challenger Learning Center in particular that had a big impact on me and fellow volunteers.  We learned a great deal as educators, both in getting to be participants, but also working alongside CLC presentation leaders on a regular basis.

    Indeed your program has made a powerful difference in advancing diversity, equity and social justice.   

    Chabot Space and Science Center was built to be, in large part, THE place school kids from the inner cities could be guaranteed to be able to get hands-on science lab experiences. Beyond what would be possible inside the individual schools.  Oakland Unified School District students in particular have been able to take part for the last two decades.

    CLEAN has held important teacher professional development events at Chabot; so the CLEAN program is also definitely one of your colleagues.

    Our Mobile Climate Science Labs program has learned a great deal from you, and we will be forever in your debt.  Thank you!

  • Icon for: Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Development, Partnerships, & Strategy
    May 18, 2021 | 02:33 p.m.

    Thank you so much for your comment! It's awesome to hear about your connection to Chabot! 

  • Icon for: Jonee Wilson

    Jonee Wilson

    Assistant Professor
    May 17, 2021 | 11:03 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing this work! I love that students are given opportunities to simulate (or approximate) the experiences that they could eventually participate in by following through with a STEM career.

    Did you find that the online versions/virtual missions influenced the level of engagement from students or affected their motivation to participate in any way? 

  • Icon for: Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Valerie Fitton-Kane

    Co-Presenter
    Vice President, Development, Partnerships, & Strategy
    May 18, 2021 | 02:34 p.m.

    Hi Jonee, I think we are still assessing that, but from what we've seen to date, the virtual versions are still pretty noisy (good noisy), collaborative events between students! 

  • Icon for: Liz Diaz

    Liz Diaz

    Researcher
    May 18, 2021 | 07:50 p.m.

    Excellent project!  It is extraordinary to see initiatives like this that embrace Diversity!

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