Co-teachers launch hands-on learning

BY JONATHAN BALL

Students in the Media Center were gathered around calculators and scraps of cardboard, cobbling together shirts and arm covers. Mrs. Parsons’ 6 Period and Mr. Jurey’s 7 Period classes were making prototype defenses for astronauts against space debris.

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The students sit in anticipation as Mr. Jurey explains the ground rules for their space suit construction. PHOTO BY JONATHAN BALL

The week after Spring Break, Jurey and Parsons were visiting a NASA space center when they were struck with inspiration: their subjects, math and science, have so much overlap they could combine their classes into one experimental class.

“Over all they’ve been excited about doing it,” said Parsons.

The students’ initial assignment in the session was to calculate the amount and the speed of debris in space, whether that be rock or remnants of old exploration devices. They then took this knowledge and made prototype space protection for astronauts, attempting to defend against the various types of debris they encounter when outside space vessels.

The idea is to illustrate the practical uses for higher level math and science, and also to show how closely related the fields are. It also uses much more “tactile” learning, having students apply the concepts they learn in practical circumstances.

“Anytime you can give context, they get more invested in learning,” said Parsons.

If the experimental sessions go well, Parsons and Jurey plan to continue their co-teaching classes next year. 

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Ms. Parsons explains to the students how to calculate the path of space debris before their prototyping of protective suits. PHOTO BY JONATHAN BALL