BGRD teacher receives grants for extra-terrestrial learning experience
At École Champs Vallée School in Beaumont, Grade 7 students are about to have an out-of-this world science education. This school year, teacher Amanda Green will send them to Mars, fictitiously of course, to try to solve some of the problems humans may encounter in trying to colonize the Red Planet.
The students will come up with designs for habitat structures they believe could protect settlers from the harsh climate on Mars. They will also explore elements needed to sustain vegetation – by growing plants in a special type of crushed rock to simulate conditions on the Red Planet and the moon, and using coding through micro:bit computers to create automated systems that sense when specific energy-consuming processes will be needed by the plants.
Green hopes the information resonates with students. “A major component of their responsibilities will be determining how they can both supply and conserve energy for their new civilization and, in turn, drawing conclusions about the importance of preserving what we have here on Earth,” she explains.
Green developed the outline for the project alongside colleague Julie Arsenault, a teacher at Michael Strembitsky School in Edmonton. Their idea has grabbed the attention of two organizations – Inside Education and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta – each of which have provided Green and Arsenault with a $5,000 grant for the 2018-2019 school year. That money will help fund the supplies and physical resources needed for the project.
A self-professed “space nerd”, Green is proud to be able to engage her students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) concepts. “Anytime we are given support and encouragement to pursue teaching our passions within our classrooms, that excitement seeps through directly to our students,” she says. “We are able to get them to take an active role in an authentic experience that makes every lesson meaningful. As I teacher, I couldn’t ask for a greater way to spend my day.”