Space Technology, a Rhetoric Strategy Helping Inspire Proficiency
Credit: NASA (Artist Pat Rawlings)
Project Authors: Betty and Jerry Woodfill
NASA conducted a study, decades past, of what topics motivate youth most. The survey found two subjects most popular, dinosaurs and space exploration. Somehow, the distant past and distant future possess an inexplicable magnetism in a child’s formative years. Additionally, this attraction, if nurtured, continued. Often, the interest ultimately influenced career selection. Many an astronaut attested to youthful reading of Tom Swift’s rocket exploits as leading to a career in aerospace. While dinosaur study tends to ebb with maturity, the wonder of exploring the Cosmos grows. Certainly, popular media recognizes the appeal of dinosaurs and space with the STARWARS and STARTREK billion dollar cinema series. And while PLANET OF THE APES films along with ONE MILLION, B.C. proved less profitable, nevertheless, that youthful fascination with antiquity carries over into adulthood.
A NASA study discovered space and dinosaur themes captured reader’s interest.
Below is an example of an electronic game company’s use of the space/dinosaur theme for marketing appeal.
STARSHIP, the project, seeks to benefit reading and writing (rhetoric) similarly, not in the billion dollar monetary sense of Hollywood, but, more importantly, in enriching the nation’s rhetoric challenged youth (and adults) to become proficient readers and writers. It’s goal seeks to go beyond a study/research project. The ultimate purpose of STARSHIP is a permanent presence in all levels of reading/writing education, from developmental youth and adults to gifted readers/writers. All groups will benefit, regardless of proficiency, when the STARSHIP program is employed.
SO WHAT’S NOVEL ABOUT THIS INITIATIVE?
1. a. Past effort targeted on developmental education by NASA and other aerospace interests has been modest.
b. Priority has always been given to exciting youth about careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These efforts are designated as STEM motivational programs.
c. This program-concept places developmental reading/writing first with science, engineering, technology benefits as hoped for trickle down spinoffs rather than primary goals.
d. While world-wide leadership in engineering and science is extremely important as a NASA aim, the overwhelming need for Hispanic, Asian, African-American, and Anglo students facing impaired reading/writing skills begs for NASA participation in Developmental Education.
e. To this end, specific resources and teaching schemes need be developed, explored, and promoted. Hundreds of existing NASA documents already exist precluding resources to recreate them for this initiative. Rather, reviewing what exists then adapting, advertising and promoting these resources to the developmental community would be cost effective above funding altogether new versions of products already existing. (Example: PDF files of the SPACE EDUCATORS’ HANDBOOK.)
SO WHAT REMAINS TRADITIONAL ABOUT THE STARSHIP PROGRAM?
1. a. STARSHIP will teach traditional English rhetoric in the context of space exploration themes. Included will be standard textbook topics: subject, verb, parts of speech, sentence structure and types, etc. The chronology of the lessons will be likened to a mission to the Moon and back. Additionally, analogy to space features, rockets, astronauts, etc. will serve as a backdrop to the STARSHIP course. Yet, such will only be in the context of supplementing and enhancing English rhetoric basics. The candidate topics listed below will be correlated with the chronology of a basic entry level college English developmental study curriculum. Likewise, the course will be adapted to a more rudimentary level for middle/high school application.
The STARSHIP Project Process
(See the candidate lessons listed below.)
The candidate materials will be from the voluminous NASA SPACE EDUCATORS’ HANDBOOK, and the public domain DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATORS’ HANDBOOK, a treasure trove of existing public domain space resources, resident on DVD and the Internet. A syllabus/text will be authored based on lessons developed in the first year which will be augmented, refined, and amended throughout the project.
3a. STARSHIP funding for student/instructor one day workshops: Sponsors among the community will be sought to fund attendance scholarships.
Few know that despite the wealth of potential knowledge resident in researching lunar materials, academic study would have been altogether modest had it not been for NASA funding such studies by laboratories, universities, etc. Likewise, attempts to launch STARSHIP-like workshops at a public space venue/museum failed initially when offered as a pay-to-participate opportunity. That experience led to the STARSHIP sponsor/benfactor approach. Paying for a one-day Developmental Educators’ STARSHIP workshop as a professional development option would be competitive with such existing efforts for math and science instructors.
3b. STARSHIP Venues for Phase 3. While a space facility akin to Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston, or a Challenger Center would seem most appropriate, other options might serve equally well. For example, school classrooms, auditoriums, cafeterias, and even local movie theaters offer advantages based on proximity to attendees. The STARSHIP program is best suited to instructional staffs resident in community colleges throughout the Houston Metroplex. A pilot program for San Jacinto College Central or other educational entity for students and instructors might be developed and executed through the STARSHIP project. The advantage of a local venue is obvious, however, the excitement of Space Center Houston, JSC or a Challenger Center with their “hands-on” displays, artifacts, and supplemental attractions is appealing. Those venues without such drawing factors can substitute space suits, space vehicles, and other attractions through a mobile visiting van from the Johnson Space Center. The STARSHIP project might employ, on a trial basis, this approach as well as hosting the one-day workshop at a popular space venue (Space Center Houston, JSC, or Challenger Center at the George Observatory)
Schedule: THE STARSHIP Project is for a three year term. Phase One and Two for the first two years. Phase Three for the third year.
NASA’s SPACE EDUCATORS’ HANDBOOK (Public Domain)
DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATORS’ HANDBOOK (Public Domain)
The above double layer DVD will be the source content for the project. Its content has been presented at numerous teacher conferences, workshops, and symposiums (space educational and developmental educational).
Evidence that the Developmental Educators’ Handbook is a worthy resource is shown below. These are statistics from the on-line web site for the past several years since inception. The DEH DVD has the same content as the website. Note the growth from several hundred requests in February of 2009 to approximately 11,000 per month in February of 2010. Also note the popularity of the various content areas, i.e., that the space resources and developmental resources are approximately equal.
Candidate One Hour Topical Lessons:
(content for 31 one hour class sessions)
Note: All content can be read on an I-Phone from Internet
Adult Developmental Studies:
1. Comparing Buzz Lightyear and Buzz Aldrin – Already Exists
2. Astronaut Santa Descriptive Paper – Already Exists
3. Science Fiction : Space Technology Learning – Complete
4a. Comic Book Space Science Lesson - Already Exists (Class Lesson One)
4b. Comic Book Space Science Lesson - Already Exists (Class Lesson Two)
5. From the Earth to the Moon Novel/Movie Compare Novel to the Movie Trailer Clip - Complete
6. The Apollo 13 Rescue Comic and Cartoon Video; Watch Video or read the comic then answer questions - Complete
7. Olympics on the Moon (SEH) - Complete
8. Rube Goldberg Launch System Instruction Composition - Complete
9. Listen to 10 Minute YouTube video on Apollo 13 as a narrated comic then answer questions. (COMPLETE)
10. The Moon Landing was a Hoax COMPLETE
11. The Apollo 13 Hanks/Howard Movie as a Developmental Project – Answer Questions COMPLETE
12. The Eagle Has Landed (Coming of Age novel) – Complete on-line and on DEH DVD
13. JFK’s Rice Stadium Speech as a Project: JFK’s prediction vs. fulfillment - YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zdwoMhu8mM - Complete
14. Why explore space opinion paper following viewing of 5 minute video - Complete
15. Read about Pluto being removed as a planet. Prompt exercise. Complete Make a case pro and con - TBD
16. Compare Columbus to Neil Armstrong by reading both biographies. COMPLETE
17. Compare the voyages of Columbus and Apollo 13 after hearing lecture or reading story. (SEH). Complete
18. Rewrite a page of FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON in modern prose. - Complete
19. Moon Mulligan, A Million Dollar Duff. Complete
20. The Spalding 7 and the Titliest 3:23 COMPLETE
21. Read the science fiction story EGOCENTRIC ORBIT and comment. (DEH) COMPLETE
22. Compare the “Barnyard Shuttle” to the NASA Shuttle (employs actual models or DVD/Internet photos) Complete
23. Rocket Ship Rhetoric: Comparison of rocket ship to parts of speech and other grammar features. (two lessons: the first treats parts of speech, the second deals with sentences and paragraphs, lessons should be conducted in the first several class sessions as a grammar review) (Complete)
24. Buzz Lightyear interactive game/narrative (Student writes a summary description of Buzz’s actions after watching a video clilp from the game. This process introduces student to summarizing observed actions.)
Software used is: Disney PIXAR’s Toy Story 2, Action Game.
25. Compare Technology of advertised magazine articles featured in July, 1969 to same in 2010 – Complete
26. Discuss the lives of the American Astronaut John Glenn and the Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. How were they alike? Complete
27. Moon Race Money: Recreate the history of the space race from images on both sides of a “bogus” eleven dollar bill.(Complete)
28. Science Fiction/Space Alien Descriptive Paper (Complete)
Youth Developmental Reading/Writing Studies
(content for 30 one hour class sessions)
For information, please contact Betty Woodfill, Developmental Education Instructor, San Jacinto College (Central), Pasadena, Texas.