Apollo 13 Professional Development Challenge Rouses Educators

December 14, 2017

Hitchcock Center educators develop and lead engaging professional development programs for K-12 teachers using real-life events. The recent Apollo 13 Professional Development Challenge workshop held on December 8th was no exception. Inspired by the film depicting America’s third Moon landing mission, Hitchcock environmental educators provided 60 Pre-K through 6th grade teachers in the Union 38 School District with a memorable learning experience that combined inquiry based science with “tinkering and making” skills that enhanced STE education (Science, Technology and Engineering) in their classrooms.

The Apollo 13 Professional Development Challenge workshop required teacher teams to learn from each other, share ideas and develop solutions across grade levels in an experiential learning environment that mimicked the challenges faced by the astronauts.

An on-board explosion during the Apollo 13 mission deprived the spacecraft of most of its oxygen supply and electric power, forcing NASA’s flight controllers to abort the Moon landing that turned the mission into a struggle to get the three men home safely.

Teachers in the Union 38 School District test their Apollo 13 Challenge design, with guidance from Hitchcock Educator Ted Watt.

After viewing a clip from the Apollo 13 film, mixed grade-level teacher teams completed a time-limited mission through one of three engineering and design activities: Touch Down on Mars Challenge, Mars Thermos Challenge, and Clean Water in Space Challenge. Following the challenge, teachers debriefed their group’s process and learned from their shared successes and failures.

This workshop is a continuation of a two-year professional development series with the Union 38 district that focuses on strengthening STE education through engineering and design.

Each year, the Hitchcock Center offers innovative professional development opportunities to nearly 500 teachers, in districts across Massachusetts. Using hands-on and inquiry-based project learning approaches, Hitchcock Center educators develop new curricula and project ideas for teachers to better engage students in meeting Massachusetts STE Standards as well as the the Next Generation Science Standards. The skills developed by students using these standards are critical to developing a future generation of resilient and environmentally sustainable thinkers.

One response to “Apollo 13 Professional Development Challenge Rouses Educators”

  1. Gillian says:

    What a great afternoon of professional development for all of us! Thank you for your inspiring work.

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