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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

NASA Funds WJU Center to Develop Astronomy, Earth Science Courses

Wed Apr 8 2009

A grant of almost $750,000 will allow the Center for Educational Technologies® to develop online courses on astronomy and Earth science for high school students.

The grant is one of nine proposals NASA is funding for a total of $11.5 million over two years, the space agency announced this week. The selected proposals illustrate innovative approaches to using NASA-themed content in support of secondary-level teaching and learning, with a particular emphasis on high school education.

The primary grant recipient for the Center for Educational Technologies project is Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland. The center's share of the grant is about $750,000 for two years to partner with the school system to develop and teach an online course about the solar system and also contribute to astronomy and Earth science courses. The center will also lead a social networking component and the project's overall evaluation. Also working on the project are teachers at Anne Arundel Community College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

"High school students in West Virginia will benefit by collaborating with students elsewhere in exploring astronomy and Earth science concepts, based on NASA discoveries and images, while earning both high school and college credits online," said Chuck Wood, executive director of the Center for Educational Technologies.

The two online courses, to be called NASA Earth & Space, will be designed for high school juniors and seniors. These separate, one-semester courses will each consist of six mission modules. Students will perform as mission scientists to explore major concepts in Earth and space science, using NASA mission data and research. Each mission will be guided by a mission director/instructor and will use a project-based learning format, with students immersed in social networking software for online collaboration. Students will receive Earth science or astronomy elective credit with the potential to earn dual credit from Anne Arundel Community College.

The NASA Earth course will cover earthquakes and volcanoes, plate tectonics, predictions of continent placement 100 million years in the future, weather, climate, and climate predictions for 100 years in the future.

The NASA Space course will deal with rocky planets, gas giants, a mission to an extra-solar planetary system, the Milky Way, galaxies, and the Big Bang.

The courses will be pilot tested at 23 Maryland high schools but will be available to students anywhere once they are finalized.