Early Primary Space Simulation Launches
Out-of-this-World Learning at Corbett Prep
Feb. 26, 2015 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Early Primary astronauts donned their paper bag helmets and plastic bottle space packs and marched toward the launchpad, as the countdown clock began ticking.
Ready for liftoff, a model rocket waited for them on the Middle School field. The students formed a large circle, counted down at T-minus 10 minutes and shouted “blast off!” They cheered and covered their ears as the rocket sped skyward.
Corbett Preparatory School of IDS students had officially embarked on a “Mission to Space.”
PreK4 and Kindergarten teachers planned the mission as the culmination to their “Out of this World” unit, which took students on a journey around the solar system. Students spent weeks studying the skies above them, inquiring about the exploration and discoveries in space, the dynamics of the solar system and how the solar system connects to patterns in the world.
The multidisciplinary unit stretched into many subject areas. Making predictions and observations about the universe, students learned how the scientific process works. They witnessed history as they watched videos of astronauts setting foot on the moon and footage of a rover exploring Mars. They discussed and debated the future of space exploration, including the pros and cons of space tourism — something they likely will see become a reality one day.
Teachers incorporated math concepts into the curriculum as well. Corbett Prep astronauts jumped along number lines and solved addition and subtraction problems. Using rulers, they measured various-sized planets and space shuttles, comparing and contrasting the data they collected.
PreK4 students illustrated journals to accompany facts they wrote about the planets in English and Spanish. At home, kindergartners and their families logged the phases of the moon every evening for a week, documenting in writing and with drawings the changes they observed.
Their hard work culminated in a special day that started with the rocket launch to let students begin to simulate a space mission. After a successful launch at the Middle School, the students returned to their classrooms for several STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) activities that were designed for the Early Primary astronauts to create materials needed for the mission or to explore their destination, the moon.
“Just as when astronauts go into space, you have jobs you must complete,” Kindergarten teacher Ashley Davis told the class as they prepared for a busy morning.
The students boarded the Apollo 11 “elevator” to begin their mission. Inside a giant planetarium, kindergartners watched their journey through space (thanks to a Magic School Bus video projected onto the ceiling). After arriving on the moon, the astronauts strapped on spongy “space boots” to bounce across the lunar surface, a transformed classroom.
“It’s squishy!” kindergartner Kate Sorensen said, bouncing on the sponges as she prepared for her moonwalk.
Students in the other PreK4 and Kindergarten rooms divided into small teams to work on their tasks. With footage from the actual moon landing playing on a Smart Board, the students constructed Lego rovers to explore their moon’s surface and took turns reading nonfiction in the research center.
They made stargazer telescopes to replicate how they might look for celestial bodies, mixed ingredients to form their own moon rocks and painted constellations they observed. They became part of “Mission Stardust,” acting out the roles of scientists collecting dust and particle samples of a comet.
These STEAM activities for Kindergarten and PreK4 sparked more than imagination. The meaningful, hands-on activities helped students make real-life connections to what they had learned throughout the solar system unit. Corbett Prep Early Primary teachers believe those kinds of connections allow students to better retain information they gain during their PreK4 and Kindergarten years and apply it for future lessons and experiences.