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School District 308 Academically Talented Fifth Grade Students are Out of this World

Feb 23, 2015 02:53PM ● By Steven Jack

Submitted photo

Students involved in the fifth grade Academically Talented (AT) classes from Long Beach and Prairie Point elementary schools, participated in a field trip to the Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock on Feb. 13.

The Challenger Learning Center is a leader in the field of (STEM) education, integrating science, technology, engineering and math into a real world simulation. In preparation for the visit to the Challenger Learning Center, Michelle Gabris’ students participated in team-building activities, reviewed latitude and longitude for mission navigation, and studied comets. They also applied for their job positions during the mission.

While at the center, 15 students from Gabris’ fifth grade AT class, as well as 15 students from Deb Mogle’s Prairie Point Elementary School AT class, participated in two space simulations, one in Mission Control and one in the Space Station. The students used what they had learned to launch two space probes, successfully rendezvous with a comet, and return their crew back to Earth.

Students were able to experience what it was like to work together as a team to meet a common goal. Their mission was a complete success as students performed hands-on science experiments and team building activities. They studied space rocks, maneuvered robotic arms, monitored astronauts’ health, navigated through space, properly handled space emergencies, and calculated the weight of hazardous liquids. They also learned a lot about the importance of good communication skills.

“I like how I can feel in control and am the go to person for everyone to get to and I can receive all information,” Gabris’ student Taylor Charles said. “I can also report everything and tell everyone everything important.”

Gabris said that the event was a success for her students.

“The students were actively engaged in the process from start to finish,” she said. “They learned how to perform under pressure and truly work together as a team. The integrated and hands-on approach to this program is an example of best practice in education.”