Students Meet ‘Face-to-Face’ with a Scientist

Plains Junior Students Meet ‘Face-to-Face’ with a NASA Scientist
Posted on 04/07/2020
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Face to face with NASA ScientistLakota teachers are bringing unique learning opportunities to students, all possible due to our new remote learning environment.

Case in point: last week Plains Junior eighth graders got to speak ‘face-to-face’ with a NASA scientist.

“Since video conferencing is now readily available thanks to student Chromebooks and apps like Zoom,” said Plains Junior teacher Aaron Nunley, “it seemed like a great opportunity to connect with professionals that would be difficult to have come to Plains and who might also have a little extra free time thanks to current social distancing practices.

Plains teachers discussed topics being covered in class and came up with some ideas on how to give their students experiences that were unique and engaging. Connections within the Plains community led to several Zoom calls last week with John Charles, a retired NASA Chief Scientist who now serves as NASA’s Houston Visitor Center Scientist in Residence.

“We had three half-hour sessions available for the students and allowed them to sit through multiple if they wished,” said Nunley. “We left the topic field wide open and tried to adjust to student interest. As such, the conversation varied from group to group. We discussed the International Space Station, the future of space travel, Mars, aliens, effects of faster than light travel, the grounding of the shuttles, SpaceX and more.”

Students loved the opportunity to speak with an expert firsthand, asking questions about alien life, SpaceX, return trips to the moon, and how NASA feels about ‘flat earthers.’

Plains student William Boulton said, “The best part of the Zoom call was learning about the science and history of NASA from someone who experienced working at NASA. He taught us about the space race between the US and Russia and why it came about, and also what it meant for us. We were able to learn about important NASA missions that we hadn't heard of before.” He added, “I liked that we were able to ask questions about whatever we wanted and get information about things we are interested in.

More Zoom sessions are in the works. This week, Plains teachers plan to connect with an ISS flight director and a retired astronaut. They are also working to find a Holocaust survivor to speak to the students as well as professionals in the infectious disease fields who can talk about the current virus situation.