I don’t know if you caught this but it took me by surprise. China recently launched a piece of a future space station into orbit. Coming as it does on the heals of the end of our Space Shuttle program it kind of rocked me back on my heels a little.
As a child of the Sixties, I grew up with the Mercury Seven, Gemini Program, and the Apollo landing on the moon, all the while assured that the good old USA was always number one when it came to science and space.
It is well known that American kids in general are not being drawn into science based careers the way they used to, nor are their scores on science testing showing promising results. Maybe it is just me, and my way of seeing things, but it seems to me that kids today are more preoccupied with Facebook, Twitter, clothing, music, movies, cars and celebrities. All good stuff, mind you! I like all that, too! But somewhere along the way we seem to be failing to instill into them a love of science and an awareness of how cool science and technology can be.
Well, with school budgets being cut, and teacher layoffs, along with the accompanying larger class sizes, it is tough to find the time in school to accomplish this goal. And added emphasis on Reading and Math in order to meet mandatory testing only compounds the matter, doesn’t it?
But help is at hand!
A good science assembly takes very little time out of the school day but accomplishes so much!
Since we started with space exploration, let us take Sky Dome Planetarium as an example. This portable planetarium sets up in a school for a day. But for each student we are looking at less than an hour of time. However, in that hour what they see and learn and experience is beyond words. A journey into the stars, and not the kind found in movies or in Hollywood. Sky Dome takes students from a darkened room on a journey of discovery leading throughout the universe. The technology allows amazing views of the heavens and propels the students in far flung galaxies and universes in a manner simply impossible to duplicate in a regular school. Even the old Star Lab portable planetariums some districts bought years ago are simply no match for the power of a $40,000 digital star projector and all the computer generated marvels it can produce. Science assemblies such as this make an impact on kids that they will remember for years, and which just may influence a student toward a career in science, or at the least, a new found interest and respect for science. Isn’t that what school is supposed to do?
In the next few weeks I plan to revisit this topic with examinations of other types of science assemblies and the indisputably powerful effect they can have on our kids.
Maybe, with luck and a few science assemblies, it won’t be just the Chinese in space!
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN.