(EAST HARTFORD) -The Capitol Region Education Council's (CREC) Glastonbury-East Hartford Elementary Magnet School (GEMS) has been recognized by NASA as one of fourteen schools to receive the2011 School Recognition Award. Selected from a pool of over 1,300 NASA Explorer Schools, GEMS was chosen for their unique and significant contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
As a feature of their award, GEMS students participate in the NASA Microgravity Project. Students in kindergarten through Grade 5 will design experiments in their school science lab involving Newton’s Laws of motion, mass, and fluid dynamics. These experiments will later be tested aboard the NASA Zero-G Aircraft. Sheri Raffalo, Terry Wilson and Donna Rand, teachers at GEMS, will travel to Houston in early February to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center. There they will observe and record the results of student experiments in microgravity and 2-G environments to ensure that they are secure for flight and testing.
“I'm thrilled that our students and teachers are participating in the NASA Microgravity Project,” explained Glen Peterson, principal of GEMS. “The students are very excited.”
After being exposed to hundreds of high quality science, engineering and technology lessons and experiments, teachers will return to GEMS with a special video of their students' experimental results. Students will then review the outcome of their experiment, including analyzing the results.
From left to right, CREC teachers Sheri Raffalo, Grade 2; Donna Rand, Science;
and Terry Wilson, Grade 5.
NASA recognition is not new to GEMS, which has been a NASA Explorer School since 2007. The school’s longstanding partnership with NASA has included extensive teacher training, visits from Astronauts and NASA personnel, video conferencing with NASA scientists, connecting live with Commander Jeff Williams on the International Space Station, students controlling a NASA radio telescope to collect data about black holes, and student experiments conducted by Astronaut Tracy Dyson-Caldwell in space.
The NASA Microgravity Project engages all 259 students at GEMS. “This is a wonderful and unique experience,” explains Peterson. “Where else do first graders participate in videoconferences with NASA scientists about microgravity?” The teachers expect that the experience will excite students’ interest in STEM learning and renew enthusiasm for science exploration among all members of the school community.
The Glastonbury-East Hartford Elementary Magnet School is a CREC interdistrict Magnet School for children in PreK through grade 5. Students at GEMS explore science, global studies, and technology through daily, hands-on immersion experiences. The school provides a challenging environment that encourages both academic achievement and a love of learning. The school’s inquiry-based model encourages students to experiment and pursue areas of interest in global studies, technology, and science.
Students at GEMS will be doing much more science exploration when they move into their new state-of-the-art building in Glastonbury this summer. The school will feature a planetarium and two science rooms specifically built for hands-on learning for young students. The new building was designed to further enhance students’ studies in STEM disciplines and the space sciences in particular. For more information about CREC’s Glastonbury-East Hartford Elementary Magnet School, visit www.crecschools.org.