PCSD sets out on space mission
December 2, 2011
The Park City School District will evaluate a new pilot program that seeks to incorporate science and other education subjects into the curriculum. According to Park City School District Board President Moe Hickey, they are considering using the iWorlds Space Center that was proven popular among students in the Alpine School District.
The space center was built in a portable unit that allowed iWorlds to relocate to the Treasure Mountain Middle School parking lot. Hickey said students in every grade can benefit from the space center because of the ability to tailor each mission.
"When they first came to us and we started talking about this, I thought ‘how great would an ongoing program be,’" Hickey said. "Where I see the real benefit is the problem solving and carrying the missions over. Say you are going every two weeks; you can carry over the project and it’s just another tool for the teacher."
Hickey said students would have the opportunity to join guilds, which would allow them to write programs and participate in executing a mission behind the scenes. Hickey said more than 45 students signed up at the Park City High School to participate in the pilot program.
"For example, the guild could be a film-writer’s guild where students would sign up and be a part of a club," he said. "The students could meet every Friday and you could have a science, music or computer technology guild and then work with those clubs to develop other missions. There has to be a lot of collaboration and what it means to write a script that is applicable."
Hickey said the missions can take on reality the more students immerse into the scenarios. Since the space center is computer generated, it has the ability to apply across the whole curriculum.
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The pilot program is offered at no-cost to the school district, other than running electricity to the space center. The program will be audited from now until August, according to Hickey, who said summer camps and private birthday party rentals might be available for additional educational opportunities.
"It’s a fun way of learning without knowing you’re learning," he said. "The guilds and the curricular aspects coming together is where it will really blossom."
Park City Education Foundation Marketing Manager Jennifer Billow, said iWorlds asked them to be a beneficiary of the for-profit side of the company.
"That was really exciting and I think that is one of the main pieces. As they begin to make money, then we would be a beneficiary of that," she said. "We can then use those dollars to give to teachers and put into other curriculum programs."
Billow said third-graders learn about solar systems and space, so if students needed money for a program, they could apply for funding from the PCEF.
"The high school students will have the guilds and those students can write scripts and those teachers who are the directors of those guilds might write us a grant request," she said. "You are in that immersive experience and if these kids can create programs that can be educational, it’s something they will walk away with for a long time," she said.
For more information regarding the iWorlds Space Center and its cooperation with the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove, contact the Park City School District at (435) 645-5600.