Student teams from Lawrence and Elliott county high schools were among 27 teams that recently launched an exploration of the space sciences as participants in the Kentucky Space Movie Project.
Teams of middle school students traveled to the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky at Hazard and high school teams worked at the Morehead State University Space Science Center.
Sponsored by Dataseam, Morehead State University’s 21st Century Education Enterprise and the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky at Hazard, the Kentucky Space Movie Project moves students outside of traditional classroom learning and pushes them to dig deeper into subjects like astronomy, engineering, advanced technologies, robotics, satellite communications, physics, cosmology and astrophysics.
“We have the technology and the educational programs in place,” said MSU Space Science Director Dr. Ben Malphrus. “We have to attract and train the innovative thinkers we need to advance the aerospace industry in Kentucky. The opportunity to interact with these students during the Space Movie Project helps me introduce them to a whole new world of opportunities and it exposes them to the college experience. I want to see them back here studying in my classroom in the future.”
Teams of students select a topic related to space exploration and produce a multimedia presentation on the subject.
Topics range from the future of nanosatellites, like those developed at Morehead, to the dangers of asteroids streaking into the earth’s atmosphere. Middle school students’ movies will be shown and winners will be selected on April 26 at the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky at Hazard and high school students’ movies at the MSU Space Science Center Star Theatre on April 25.
“Our goal is simple,” said director of the 21st Century Education Enterprise at Morehead State University Krista Barton. “We want to ignite a spark of interest in science for all of these students. We engage them in interdisciplinary, project-based learning. Producing movies is a real world application that brings the science to life.”
“It’s amazing to see what students can do with technology. They research, develop and produce a project using today’s media and learn ways they will have to communicate in the 21st Century Economy. Digital tools enable them to dig deeper into subjects that a basic classroom lesson provides,” said Henry Hunt, who is the COO of Dataseam.
Students also learn from the state’s leading space scientists. MSU Professor of Space Science and Astronautical Engineer Bob Twiggs, Director of the East Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium Steven Russo, MSU Professor of Astrophysics Dr. Thomas Pannuti and Professor Kevin Brown engaged students in the workings of satellites, bots and cubesats, the history of space, and the design and operation of space experiments. Dataseam representatives coach students on telling stories with digital equipment and on basic interviewing techniques.
Challenger Learning Center of Hazard Director Tom Cravens loves to see interest in science flash across students’ faces, and attributes the hands-on experiences found in the Kentucky Space Movie Project as the most important strategy in engaging them. “We are involving students in real world space projects and many have a Kentucky connection. It’s incredibly gratifying to see students fascinated with the possibilities.”