DODDS-Pacific teachers bringing ‘Monster Storms’ to classroom
TORII STATION, Okinawa — Sixth-grade teachers from around the Pacific learned Tuesday how to mimic the wind patterns of a hurricane and demonstrate other weather phenomenon in their science classrooms.
Sixteen Department of Defense Dependent School teachers from South Korea, Japan and Okinawa are training this week in a pilot program of The JASON Project, a nonprofit educational organization that provides students with hands-on science experience.
DODDS is using a new curriculum this year called Monster Storms, which will teach sixth-graders about weather science. DODDS teachers in Europe were trained in the program last week.
“The JASON Project really sparks their interests in science,” DODDS-Pacific elementary curriculum specialist Naomi Mayer said. “Plus, they get role models of real scientists.”
The project, in which National Geographic, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also partner, was founded in 1989 by Robert Ballard, who located the wreckage of the Titanic. It pairs students with scientists doing real research on the topics they are studying.
In addition to Monster Storms, DODDS uses JASON programs on discovering Mars and disappearing wetlands. Much of the curriculum is computer-based, and the students interact with the scientists online through Web chats.
DODDS has been using The JASON Project in its fourth- through eighth-grade science classrooms as supplementary curriculum for more than 10 years, Mayer said.
“The kids react really positive to it,” said Monica Richardson, a sixth-grade teacher at Yokota Middle School, who was in Okinawa for the training.
Richardson and the others learned how to put together classroom experiments about weather, specifically hurricanes and tornadoes, to demonstrate often elusive concepts, such as density and pressure.
“The trainers also go over the good questions to ask,” Mayer said, noting The JASON Project is an inquiry-based learning model.
DODDS will help The JASON Project develop the Monster Storms program by providing feedback on what experiments worked well in the classroom, she said.