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  • K-BeachAstronaut Bill Oefelein Visits K-Beach Elementary

    Teacher Jason Daniels not only teaches his students about space through Space Explorers programming, but he also brought an astronaut to his school. Alaska's first astronaut Bill Oefelein recently spoke to approximately 500 students at K-Beach Elementary School in Soldotna, Alaska. Oefelein spoke of his and other jobs at NASA and presented a movie clip, a slideshow, and equipment demonstrations.

    "Many students were star-struck by the event," said teacher Jason Daniels. "Others want to become an astronaut now, and still others have decided that they don't like the risks involved in space exploration. Students learned many facts and figures they didn't know before the visit."

    After Oefelein spoke to the entire school, Daniels had the unique K-Beachopportunity to bring Oefelein to his fifth grade students.

    "The best part for many kids was when Bill had a kid climb inside a space shuttle sleeping restraint device," Daniels said. "Even the kid's head had to be velcroed down so it wouldn't float around.

    "He ended his day with us by presenting a similar lesson to the K-2 kids in the gym. The kids absolutely loved him. To the kids, he is a shining star.

    "It was well worth the effort of coordinating Bill's K-Beachvisit," Daniels continued. "Giving students current and meaningful knowledge about the world around them is my mission. I would say we accomplished our mission that day."

    That mission is also reached in another innovative way. Daniels implements Space Explorers Portal programming to enhance his students' educational experience and further their interest in space science and technology.

    "Reading about astronauts and other space-related science concepts are enough for some students to get excited about science," Daniels added. "More often than not, however, students need more than textbooks and literature to become involved in science.

    "When students are involved in science, they tend to seek understanding about the world around them to a greater degree. I K-Beachtry to supercharge my science teaching by inviting guest speakers, providing hands on 'discovery toys', planning hands-on science lessons, making lessons relevant, probing student interest in science and teaching lessons on them, looking for Internet and computer programs that relate to our study, and looking for cool online curriculum that relates to current science exploration, like Space Explorers programs. These are ideas I use to "hook" students and turn them on to science.

    "From my experience, science is one of the easiest subjects to teach, because once students are self-motivated, my job is simply to guide them."

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