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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

NASA blasts its way in to Iowa

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Sioux Central one of 50 schools in the nation selected to take part in three-year educational program

Sioux Central School is fortunate to be involved in a new program that is out of this world!

NASA made available a three-year exploratory program and selected only 50 schools throughout the nation to take part. Sioux Central was one - and the only school in Iowa - to be selected. Since the beginning of this school year, Sioux Central has had access to the NASA web site and has received many teaching materials from them. Personnel from the NASA program continue to ask, "what can we do to help you." Though the program is geared for middle school students, elementary and high school students are also able to absorb the excitement of the program.

Craig Cademan, middle school science teacher, said it was somewhat of a fluke that the school even heard about the NASA program. Last spring Superintendent Meyer was at a convention in California and received information there. All schools were encouraged to apply.

At the same time, Cademan had received a mailing describing the program. Immediately he thought the possibility sounded "cool" and he laid the information on the top of the pile on his desk.

When Superintendent Meyer returned he and Cademan exchanged the information at about the same time.

It was agreed to send in an on-line application which was, Cademan said, rather simple to fill out. Requirements included having a team of teachers on hand to carry out the program, if selected, and to have a person on board that had previously taken part in a NASA workshop. Jim Christensen, science consultant for Western Hills AEA, was contacted. He had the training that was required and he was willing to help out if Sioux Central was selected.

It was only about a month after sending in the application that the news was received that Sioux Central was selected to take part. It was very exciting news. The fact that Sioux Central is in a rural area, Cademan said, and "under served" by NASA materials, was probably one of the reasons why the selection was made.

"Everything has snowballed since we received the news," Cademan said. Also taking part in the program are Rick Roghier, elementary principal; Lisa Stoner, middle school math teacher and Karen Stacy, high school math and k-12 TAG teacher.

A one-week all expense paid trip to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL where other teachers from the participating schools went through training. "It's been awesome," the enthusiastic Cademan said.

As part of the selection, the school received a $10,000 grant to purchase technical pieces.

Cademan said that he has not changed his curriculum but has rather incorporated NASA materials. He is finding that those materials relate to any topic he is teaching - even the discussion of fungus which his seventh grade class is talking about in earth science. Everyday he ties in the NASA materials. In a combination of the web site and ICN, labs and many hands-on experiments are provided.

It is incredible, Cademan said, to be so close to the NASA research. "It's been an eye-opening experience."

So many other opportunities have come out the involvment with the program. Three high school students - Anna Nelson, Courtney Schultz and David Tellefsen - have been selected to take part in the Mars Settlement Design Competition. They and teacher Karen Stacy and other students will travel to Houston late this winter to participate in a weekend of experimentation.

In addition, more great news has come to the school. After applying for a spot on the KC-135 Micro gravity Research Plane, Cademan and Jim Christensen were selected to take part; only three schools were chosen to participate. The plane, Cademan said, flies to an altitude of 35,000 feet and then drops quickly, giving the passengers a chance to experience no gravity for a short time. This event is set for mid-April in Houston.

As part of the plan, each school is to bring along a packet of student experiments that they have chosen to take place in that no gravity spot. Cademan said his students have been busy coming up with ideas. Though the kids won't be present, Cademan hopes to video tape the experience and will bring back information to share with them, to give them the feeling that they were there.

This involvement with NASA, said Cademan, is more than a learning experience. "It is getting the kids interested in science, math and technology. Maybe one day some of these kids will end up with a NASA job because of this experience."

there will be more workshops this summer for the Sioux Central teachers to take part in and additional grant money to purchase more technical equipment. This is just an awesome, awesome thing to be involved in."

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