This year, July 16 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space shuttle launch which ultimately landed the first men on the moon.
The Brookings-Harbor High School Class of 2020 recently commemorated the historic event as part of their 11th grade history curriculum.
For the past two years, Brookings-Harbor High School social studies teachers Kelly Gavin, who teaches college level history, and Lisa Piscitello, who teaches regular history, have been collaborating. The goal, they say, is to have students appreciate a broader view of how local history and world history intersect.
The space exhibit consisted of a local history section which showcased Curry Pilot newspapers from major dates in space exploration history, a rocket science portion which focused on the math and engineering principles used during the space race, a brief history of the Kennedy Space Center and the Houston Space Station, biographies of notable people involved in the space race — including the animal astronauts used by both the United States and the USSR — and a display dedicated to the Apollo 11 mission.
This approach is often referred to as Project Based Learning (PBL), an approach in which students solve real-world problems based on the curriculum to cultivate more functional knowledge of a subject.
“All of these kids are intelligent but the public school system tends to recognize those that can read and write well,” Gavin said.
Piscitello described a student who was typically difficult to engage but approached her one day asking if the display could benefit from real artifacts from NASA.
“He was on the phone and writing emails to some of the smartest people in our nation for about two weeks trying to get in touch with the right person that could help us out,” said Piscitello.
PBL is essentially about finding ways for students to demonstrate a deep knowledge of a subject in ways that they find interesting or useful Garvin and Piscitello said.
While Garvin said she doesn’t know what exactly next year’s project will be based on, she plans on continuing the effort.
“It depends on the group and the skills they bring,” Garvin said.