Math and Science Lessons from NASA's Website: A Review of Teacher Resources From the Leader in Space Exploration

NASA's website has an extensive selection of educational resources that include hands-on lessons and multimedia activities on the science and mathematics of space exploration. But finding the right lesson on this huge website can be challenging, especially when some of its offerings are either hard to use or not very appealing. Fortunately though, most of what NASA does offer transforms this organization's top notch research into resources educators can use.

Educator Guides Contain Great Science Lessons

The heart of NASA's offerings for teachers are the educator guides. These are complete and comprehensive unit plans aligned with science and mathematics standards and designed to be taught over a series of days or weeks; although some guides include lessons that can be taught on a stand alone basis.

These lessons use current educational practices to teach lesson objectives. They take care of everything, from lesson openers to suggestions for supplemental materials. The activities are always hands-on and students work in groups to complete tasks.

The following guides are highlighted because of their appeal and ease of use. They can be found using NASA's search box on the main page:

  • Rockets Educator Guide
  • Space Food and Nutrition Educator Guide
  • Exploring the Extreme Educator Guide
  • Engineering Design Challenges: Spacecraft Structures Educator Guide

NASA Provides Multimedia Resources for Teachers

NASA also has a stellar multimedia collection which includes extensive videos of NASA at work; links to several image galleries of nearby planets and distant galaxies; and interactive features that showcase NASA technology. Enter the following terms directly into the main page search box to find these highlighted interactive items:
 

  • Clickable Spacesuit
  • Spacewalk Simulations
  • Interactive Space Station Reference Guide

Another highlighted feature is NASA TV, which can be accessed from the main page. It broadcasts real time shuttle launches and spacewalks, complete with actual audio between mission commanders and astronauts. They also broadcast scheduled educational programs on a daily basis, but the real draw of this feature is being able to see astronauts at work as the work is happening.

NASA also offers archived videos called NASA eClips which are created especially for educators. They are short videos, usually five minutes, on how researchers are using science and mathematics to help create technological innovations.

New Research and Technology Lead to Great Lesson Plans

Cutting edge research happens every day at NASA. Fortunately for educators, NASA takes advantage of this research to create challenging and engaging classroom resources. With so many to choose from, teachers have an abundance of tools with which to educate and inspire the next generation of outer space explorers.