Teaching the Scientists of Tomorrow

The Student Astronaut Challenge – Teaching the Scientists of Tomorrow

Guest post by Peter Carafano, RN, M.Ed. Science Instructor at Florida State University Lab School (Florida High School)

As teachers we are faced with the daunting challenge of engaging a generation of students that have been raised in a world benefiting from great technological advances. Students, who have no personal experience with the struggle to reach the moon, establish a permanent foothold in space or the development of a reusable space vehicle.  A generation of students that see video conferencing, wireless access to the web, or having the knowledge of the world at their finger tips as commonplace.

How foster the desire in students to dream about the possible and to use science, technology, engineering and mathematics to make that dream a reality?  The key is to show students the relevance of what we teach them and the real world application of what they have learned.  In an effort to do just that the Florida Department of Education, partnering with state educators, has develop a venue where teachers and students can do just that.

On Saturday, May 19, 2012 the first-ever Student Astronaut Challenge will take place in our states capitol. Eight teams, chosen from around the state, will compete in a five-person team competition. This competition will feature an engineering challenge (where students will problem solve emergency repairs to the space shuttle), demonstration of an original zero gravity experiment and display their proficiency at operating a Space Shuttle flight simulator.

 The Student Astronaut Challenge is an idea born out of the desire for educators to provide students with the ability to experience the real world of science. To have students placed in problem solving situations commonly faced by engineers and scientists today. The Student Astronaut Challenge is an opportunity for Science Teachers throughout the state to give their students a chance to experience Science the way it should be, as an adventure.

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