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Education Students Study at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute

By Kayla Leed, ‘16

On Nov. 6 and 7, Brevard College students had a unique opportunity to spend a night with the stars during a workshop at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI).

The workshop was part of the College’s new partnership with PARI, and made possible by a grant written by Brevard College Professor Michael Castelaz and PARI educator Christie Whitworth, to bring a NASA Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution ambassador to PARI.

The 15 participants, 10 Brevard College teacher candidates and five local science teachers, stayed overnight at PARI, where they observed the stars with PARI telescopes. The workshop’s goal was to equip participants to inspire their future students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Students and teachers together learned about the science conducted remotely and how that information is helping us understand more about Mars, Earth’s neighbor in space.

“Professional development like the ‘Mars Comes to North Carolina’ workshop at PARI is exciting because it brings both experienced in-service teachers and pre-service future teachers together to dialogue about science and learning and helps prepare our teachers to better inspire STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning in their future students,” said Betsy Burrows, director of teacher education at Brevard.

Experiential learning opportunities like this are as good for our teachers as for our students in developing life-long learners, excited and curious about science and math, Burrows added.

Castelaz, associate professor of physics at the College, said the curriculum is directly related to science standards in the classroom.

“We hope to see the Brevard College student teachers use the workshop materials in the classroom.  And as a result, see increased interest of middle and high school students in science, technology, engineering and math,” he said.

The students and educators who attended the workshop were offered 1.5 continuing education credits.

“The PARI trip was such a wonderful experiential education learning opportunity,” said Jamie Ellisor, an education student at the College. “The highlight of the trip for me was being able to participate in the many hands-on learning experiments. I’m so glad that Brevard College has been able to provide me with opportunities like the PARI trip because it has helped in the process of getting me ready for student teaching next semester.”

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