With the goal of expanding student interest in math, science and technology, Tony Knapp has successfully implemented the NASA Explorer School program in his elementary school in order to inspire the next generation of explorers, scientists and engineers. As part of the program, students are motivated to learn by participating in after-school clubs, designing experiments for NASA, competing in national technology and science competitions and learning directly from visits from actual NASA astronauts and other experts. The school's partnership with Time Warner Cable has given the students access to television production and content, to the NASA Channel and to NASA programming and activities. Mr. Knapp's school has acquired new teaching resources and technology using NASA's unique expertise, partnerships and other resources.
During after-school science clubs specifically designed to provide hands-on experience, the students have developed experiments that have actually been used by NASA scientists. For example, one of the clubs designed an experiment to evaluate the effects of a rocket launch on black ants. This experiment was chosen by NASA, and two students traveled with a teacher to watch the rocket lift off and to examine the effects of the rocket launch on the ants. Other students designed an experiment to study the effects of microgravity on soap bubbles. This experiment was conducted by school staff on NASA's C-9 Reduced Gravity Aircraft. In addition, North Ridge Elementary School has been fortunate enough to have had three astronauts, all with space-flight experience, involved in assemblies for students. Students also participate in distance-learning opportunities with NASA scientists, astronauts and engineers throughout the year.
"As one of only 150 NASA Explorer Schools nationwide, it is our goal to encourage interest in technology, math and the sciences among our student body, especially among under-represented minority and female students. Who better to encourage and spark the interest of our students than the world's foremost space exploration agency?" Tony Knapp
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