RAPID CITY, S.D.
(Dec. 7, 2016) – The South Dakota Space Grant Consortium affiliated with NASA
has awarded the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology a $25,000 Project
Innovation Grant to promote STEM education by using astronomy to engage K-12 teachers
and students in math.
will lead the comprehensive program to increase interest in the fields of
engineering and science necessary in developing the nation’s workforce.
The project is
the direct result of a request among teachers for professional development
opportunities through South Dakota Mines. The project includes three components:
several two-day computational astronomy workshops for teachers; bi-weekly computational
astronomy sessions for middle and high school students; and night sky
exploration for students. It will be open to students and teachers from Rapid
City and neighboring school districts.
“Several of our
math faculty members happen to be really good amateur astronomers. When teachers
told us they wanted more content-rich professional development opportunities,
the faculty put together a program that looks interesting and fun for both
teachers and students. If this is well received, we will keep working with
teachers to try other things like this in the future,” said South Dakota Mines
President Heather Wilson.
The project stems
from a planning meeting Wilson, Mines Provost Demitris Kouris, Ph.D., and other
Mines faculty had with area K-12 educators last fall.
The workshops for
K-12 science and math teachers will connect specific mathematics computational models
to astronomy and space exploration, with the goal of taking it back into the
advanced topics for teachers:
the solar system, Kepler’s laws and historical discoveries; computation of
planetary masses, light speed and distances within the solar system and beyond;
applications to man-made satellites; and the nature of light and the
Teachers will also
have the opportunity to participate in night-sky telescopic observations during
the workshops. The one-credit course can be used for professional advancement
Three two-day workshops
will be offered in April 2017, October 2017 and March 2018. Tuition is paid in
full by the grant funds. Each workshop can accommodate a maximum of 15
teachers. Registration for the first workshop will open in January 2017 through
the South Dakota Mines website.
astronomy course for middle and high school students will be offered at the South
Dakota Mines campus every two weeks throughout the school year starting next fall.
The goal is to instill an interest in space exploration through understanding
register online through the university’s website at the end of May 2017. Each
session is two hours.
2017, middle and high school students and their family members will have the
opportunity to participate in night-sky exploration. The evening will begin
with a two-hour math preparation, hands-on activities in computational
astronomy, and will be followed with night sky telescopic observations. The
goal of the September session is to spark students’ desires to attend the
bi-weekly sessions during the school year.
For additional information on
this project, contact the South Dakota Mines Department of Mathematics &
Computer Science at (605) 394-2471.