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New frontiers in learning

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Sioux Central is named as Iowa's only NASA Explorer School

School hasn't even started, but you can feel the excitement as a unique partnership blasts off between NASA and Sioux Central Community Schools.

Sioux Central has been named as a NASA Explorer School, the only one in Iowa. There are 50 schools in the nation named as NASA Explorer Schools.

Everyone is excited about the possibilities, according to Craig Cadman, the team leader of the Sioux Central program.

"The objectives are to increase student participation and interest in science and math," said the Sioux Central middle school science teacher. "Usually with science and math kids aren't too excited, but you throw in NASA and it opens up a whole new universe. It should be awesome."

The goal of the NASA Explorer program is to inspire the next generation of explorers, according to NASA. At Sioux Central, the program will focus on math, science and technology in grades 5-8.

"But the road to the planets does not begin at the launch pad; it begins at the classroom door," says NASA's Explorer Schools web site. "NASA's mission to understand and explore depends upon educated, motivated people with the ingenuity to invent tools and solve problems and the courage to always ask the next question."

Cadman has already received leadership training this summer at a workshop in Seattle, and is currently at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for further training in the Explorer program.

At the Seattle meeting, Cadman was able to participate in a live teleconference with astronauts who were at the international space station.

At this week's training session, Cadman and fellow team leaders from across the country will take part in a question and answer forum with Homer Hickam, the author of "October Sky" - a memoir about Hickam's life growing up as a miner's son in West Virginia.

That training session gave Cadman just a "glimpse into what this is going to do to us."

"The focus is NASA science and technology and using the resources of NASA to come up with additional curriculum, labs and activities, that sparks student interest. There's a lot of problem solving involved," Cadman said. "NASA Explorer says where do you need help - it's pretty awesome."

Objectives of the Explorer program include:

* Increased student ability to apply science, mathematics and technology concepts, as well as an increased interest and participation in science.

* Increased student knowledge about careers in science, mathematics and technology.

* Increased participation and professional growth of educators in science, mathematics and technology.

* Increased family involvement in student learning.

* Increased academic assistance for and technology use by educators in schools with high populations of underserved students.

Learn more about this exciting adventure - get your copy of the Pilot Tribune today - 732-3130.

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