Local teacher excites students and parents with rockets
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:00 AM
In an effort to excite students, a fifth grade science teacher held a NASA webinar and a rocket making competition.
Robin McClellan, a fifth grade science teacher at Philadelphia Elementary School, set up a webinar or a web seminar, with Steve Culivan, a NASA Aerospace Education Specialist with the John C. Stennis Space Center.
"We've kind-of got a space theme going," she said. "I wanted the students to go on and talk to him [Culivan] and get them in the mood."
The webinar, held on Thursday, Sept. 20, had Culivan giving an overall view of what NASA does.
The lesson was peppered with scientific facts about space travel, Newton's Laws of Physics and even what jobs NASA offers.
During the lesson, students were captivated watching and listening to Culivan's lesson.
"They love the fact that they're talking to someone live on the Internet," she said, "and that it's NASA.
"You can see that they're mesmerized by everything he's saying."
For the webinar, two classes of fifth graders were placed in McClellan's room.
The idea for a webinar lesson started when McClellan attended a workshop at Mississippi State University for science teachers
There she met Culivan who showed off NASA experiments to the gathered group of teachers.
"He offered to do webinars for students," she said. "I asked him to set it up and two days later he was ready. He loves to be in the classroom."
McClellan tied in the webinar with a parent/student lesson in October where the parents and students worked on individual stomp rockets that were launched from the playground.
A stomp rocket uses air pressure from a pump to launch upwards.
"I brought one in to show them what they'll be making," she said. "They were freaking out. The parents were also excited."
Of those invited to the event, 60 showed up, she noted.
"Each family member made a rocket," McClellan said. "A lot of the time the kids won."
In preparation for the event, the students marked off 25 and 50 yard distance markers.
"Some of the rockets hit right at the 50 yard mark."
The event was a big success.
"The parents thought it was wonderful to make something with the kids," she said with a smile.
McClellan noted that they would have another event in the spring when the weather got warmer.
"But the kids want to do it every day," she said.
McClellan noted that as a teacher it is important to keep classroom lessons interesting.
"They've got technology to keep them interested at home so we need to make them want to come to school," she said.
McClellan went on the say that even though this was the first webinar lesson she was already planning on another in a few months.
"I'll let them [the children] really want it," she said. "I can already tell they're ready to do it again."
She noted that if other teachers wanted to get involved, all they'd have to do is log in to the website.
McClellan predicted that this kind of lesson could catch on but she still said students needed to be in the classroom.
"They need to be with other kids," she said.