ISS-ABOVE – where’s the curriculum?

It wasn’t long after I started working with Liam that I realized the potential of ISS-ABOVE in education. Way back when (never mind how long) I was a teacher of Math, some science too. When we started installing ISS-ABOVEs in schools, the excitement of the young people blew our minds – and their teacher’s minds. These days, nearly 100 schools in, we’re used to it, but the teachers continue to be amazed at how enthusiastic and knowledgeable their students are and how many questions they have.

So it crossed our mind to build some curriculum around the ISS-ABOVE. That thought lasted about 30 seconds.  For one thing, we’re focused on continuous improvements to the ISS-ABOVE code. Trying to write lesson plans and put together resources was a bit of a stretch – there’s just 2 of us. We created some detailed information on the ISS-ABOVE screens and resource sheets for teachers. After that, we went looking for partners who had more experience in curriculum development.

So I’m delighted to announce our partnership with Beating the Odds, a foundation offering programs that encourage young people to be their greatest selves – inspired by Quarterbacks-of-Life – a group of inspiring, national figures who made it in the face of obstacles and circumstances. BTO has collaborated with NASA to develop programs that incorporate current space programs (specifically ISS) and research.

During this academic year, the program has used the Twins Study (astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly) to offer an opportunity to research the project and uncover what has been learned during Scott’s year in space. The curriculum also focuses on how astronauts cope with challenges and set-backs and asks students to compare how astronauts deal with these circumstances and what they can glean from that. The program is ongoing.

BTO also partners with ISS-ABOVE offering units to any school that subscribes to the programs. In addition, some of the NASA programs use the Challenger Learning Centers around the US (who are also gradually rolling out ISS-ABOVE). Before you know it, you’ll find those little guys flashing their LED lights all over the place.