Ask a fifth-grader at
The students spent Thursday afternoon working to rescue a ship of astronauts lost on the outer edge of the solar system.
"We try to find specifically where the ship is or the nearest planet," fifth-grader and navigation specialist
To complete their mission, some students raced to follow clues leading them to the missing ship; others plotted the path and calculated the oxygen, food and supplies needed to make the trip.
Students also had to translate coded messages coming from the lost and damaged vessel.
"We decode them really fast, but we have to check to see if (the message) is valid," fifth-grader and transmission specialist Brianna Fetterer said.
To guide them on their path, students worked with a liaison through the
"It's provided through a
This is the second year that fifth-graders at Pioneer Park have worked as interstellar rescuers.
"My students (last year) said they learned a lot, had a good time and were so excited about math and science when it was done," Kinstler said. "Their interest in math and science just rocketed. It was neat to see."
All the school's fifth-graders will get a chance to take part, she added.
The program offers students the chance to combine several skills. They researched the planets and prepared reports for their classmates, Kinstler said.
"They got to choose what information was important to them," she added. "They got really good at saying, 'This is interesting to me but probably not important.'"
They prepared for the mission for about two weeks. Students had to learn about measuring distances in space, plotting on a coordinate plane and practice decoding messages.
"It ignites their imagination," Kinstler said. "When you do the hands-on, they have fun with it and they get excited about science and math. Then they understand when I say, 'This is applicable to your everyday life.' They can see it in action."
After doing the preparation, students had to submit information and an application to
"They're used to representing themselves to me, who knows them, with this," Kinstler said. "Their work had to stand on its own merit."
As students hurried to finish their decoding or calculations, they also had to check everything through their communications officers, who helped organize the emergency response.
Several students said they enjoyed the work.
"It's going really well," Fetterer said. "I'm having a lot of fun."
Others said they had learned a lot during the project, like how many moons some planets have and how to plot a point on a coordinate grid.
"I like doing the X-Y coordinate grid," navigation specialist and fifth-grader
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