The Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS) project at Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) is a recognized leader in the development of inquiry-based education techniques. Kepler provides support for development of the first GEMS Core Sequence: Space Science Core Sequence (SSCS) that is also partly funded by other NASA EPO teams and the GEMS commercial partner, Carolina Biological Science Company. It is actually two sequences, one for grades 6–8 and the other for grades 3–5. You can see three sections of the grades 6–8 Space Science Core Sequence, all of which are © by the Regents of the University of California and may be duplicated for non-profit education purposes:
- Detecting Planet Transits (PDF, 1.46 MB)Detecting Planet Transits (Sessions 4.5 andf 4.6). Students model NASA's Kepler mission observations of planetary transits (a planet moving in front of a star) by standing in a circle with model star (light bulb) in the center, and observing, through rolled up paper viewing tubes, a marble planet orbiting the star.
- Human Orrery (PDF, 580 KB)Human Orrery (PDF-580 Kb; Session 3.10; updated 2008 Nov 21). Students lay out and act out a kinesthetic model of the solar system in 3 dimensions: 2 of space and one of time.
- Observing the Jupiter System (PDF, 374 KB) Observing the Jupiter System (Session 3.2) In 1610, Galileo’s discovery and careful observations of four of Jupiter’s moons were instrumental in disproving the geocentric model, which held that the Earth was at the center of everything, including the Solar System. In this session, students carefully observe Jupiter’s moons just as Galileo did. The class discusses their observations and arrives at the conclusion that Jupiter is at the center of a system of orbiting moons. Students’ reenactment of this discovery highlights the important role of the telescope in the development of astronomy, starting at the very onset of the telescope’s use as a scientific instrument. They learn that the farther out an object orbits, the longer it takes to orbit.
GEMS has more than 70 teacher guides in print. Kepler EPO is adding unique planet-finding classroom activities to the GEMS SSCS. The Kepler specific activities are also available on this site. SSCS is a new product that is a standards-based sequence to support grades 3-5 and grades 6-8. Parts of it come from existing GEMS activities and parts are new activities to make a core sequence of space science concepts essential to teach in those grade ranges. See synopsis of the Grades 3-5 Space Science Sequence
SSCS is in step with the NASA task force mandate for coherence and will be available through Space Science Education Resource Directory (SSERD)
Impact: GEMS has a well-established national network of more than 60 centers and thousands of master teachers nationwide. Over 100,000 GEMS teacher guides are sold each year to teachers and educators worldwide. Educational effectiveness of GEMS has been proven in a number of studies—see http://www.lhsgems.org/educeffectiveness.html for details. As a part of GEMS Space Science Core Sequence, the Kepler EPO work is used in classrooms during and well beyond the mission.
Evaluation for the GEMS SSCS is done with the guidance of the Kepler LHS Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) team.