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Posts tagged ‘Students’

NASA Challenges Students to Train Like Astronauts

Everybody knows that if you want to be an astronaut, you need to have top-notch math and science skills. But astronauts also need the strength and muscle coordination to navigate a zero-gravity environment, so even the best students can’t cut it at NASA unless their bodies are in top shape, too. To help the next generation of students become physically and mentally prepared to be astronauts, NASA is taking a page out of First Lady Michelle Obama’s fitness playbook and launching the Train Like an Astronaut project.

The program, which is developed by the same NASA scientists and fitness professionals that work with current astronauts, provides “structured, hands-on science activities” and connects “physical Earth-based needs to the requirements of exploring space.” Each mission—”Do a Spacewalk,” for example—contains a student-friendly “mission briefing, mission assignment, and mission purpose, plus vocabulary and related NASA facts,” as well as information about proper nutrition. The missions and corresponding teachers’ guides are downloadable in both English and Spanish, and are aligned with health and physical fitness education standards.

Charles Lloyd, NASA’s human research program education and outreach manager, says one of NASA’s goals is “to inspire our youth to stay in school and master professions in the sciences and engineering fields” so they can carry on the important work of space exploration. Let’s hope Train Like an Astronaut catches on in schools so we can ensure there’s a next generation of fit explorers.

This article was originally posted at

Students Are Motivated to Take Online Courses

Susan Patrick, President, iNACOL

Susan Patrick, President of iNACOL writes into the Chicago Tribune to voice her support for online learning initiatives in Chicago Public Schools. She finishes off her letter with a valid point, that students actually are motivated to take online courses, because they like it, and because online better influences their learning.

What’s more, students want to learn online: a national study showed 40 percent of middle and high school students want to take online courses.

Despite what critics say, there is no evidence that children in online or hybrid classes are any less socially adjusted than those children who attend brick-and-mortar, traditional schools.

In fact, one study showed virtual school students had better socialization skills due to the flexibility in their scheduling and more frequent social interactions in activities both organized through their schools and through increased flexibility to attend extra-curricular activities and clubs.

One size does not fit all for schooling — students are ready to go online to expand learning opportunities.

The most important thing to remember about online learning is that it can meet each child where that child needs the most help.

It provides gifted students access to more rigorous courses online, while offering struggling students the flexibility in pacing to master the lessons they need when they fall behind and stay on track for graduating with a meaningful diploma simultaneously.


E-school Students Progress

Year-end grades show improvement.

All is well that ends well, especially in the case of Molokai High students enrolled in online classes. Although poor first semester grades in Molokai High School’s (MHS) online courses prompted school officials to further examine the e-school program, second semester grades revealed significant improvement among students.

“The students saw the failing grades [from semester one] and got more in gear,” said Mahina Hou, MHS Hawaiian Immersion program instructor. “They got more of an understanding and better support.”

In spring semester 2010, 75 percent of e-school students passed – a significant improvement from the 55 percent who passed the semester prior. Seventy-nine percent of those students passed in world language online courses, and 95 percent passed in their Hawaiian Immersion online English class, according to MHS Acting Principal Denise Kelly.

Hou said all but one of the Hawaiian Immersion e-school students passed their e-school classes for the year. He also mentioned that while the online classes were difficult to get used to, they are the same types of classes that many of his students will be taking in college.

E-school is an alternative online learning program that gives students the option to earn class credit through the Internet. Online classes offered include world languages (French, Japanese and Spanish), advanced placement world history and English. MHS has been using this supplemental system for more than five years – the Hawaiian Immersion program for only one year – and success has been similar to first semester percentages, Kelly said.

Like Kelly, Hou agrees that students were not sure what to expect with this unique style of learning – a likely cause of the students’ poor results for first semester grades.

“With technology, students enjoy the computer and have other things to do on it – iTunes, Photo Booth – so we have to keep on top of them,” Hou said.

Kelly said by increasing teacher and staff involvement, and beefing up communication between MHS and the e-schools, she hopes to see even more progress next school year.

“We have the right supports in place,” Kelly said. “Communication is our focus.”


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