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Journey Education Modules

Student LessonJourney though the Universe programming is supported by a curriculum library of Grade K-12 Education Modules—compendia of inquiry-based, hands-on lessons at elementary, middle, and high school levels—that are used as the curriculum for community-wide programming. 

Five Modules are currently available covering topics such as exploration of the Solar System, galaxy, and Universe; Earth systems science; the search for extraterrestrial life; building a permanent human presence in space; and engineering interplanetary spacecraft.

Teacher DemonstrationEach Module includes an Education Unit at three (K-4, 5-8, 9-13) or four (K-2, 3-4, 5-8, 9-13) grade levels.  Each Unit contains lessons comprised of content overviews, pre-knowledge assessment, inquiry-based hands-on activities, assessment rubrics, resource listings, student worksheet masters, and answer keys.  Typically each Unit also contains a lesson to be done with family at home, and a lesson specifically dedicated to the process of science.

Each lesson is developed from the National Science Education Standards with a focus on a specific standard.  Two Modules (Voyage and Staying Cool) also address AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy. 

Lessons are designed to develop conceptual understanding through activities that seamlessly integrate content and process.  Lessons are instructionally designed to support facilitation of inquiry-based learning.

Download an overview of the Journey through the Universe lesson layout, including a description of each lesson section and section objectives: Lesson Layout (PDF, 490 KB).

Education Modules

Voyage–A Journey Through the Solar System uses the remarkable power of models to provide an understanding of Earth’s place in the Solar System and the Sun’s place among the stars.  The Module was created as part of the Voyage Project which includes permanent placement of a one to 10-billion scale model of the Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and sites worldwide.  The Voyage Project web site includes a comprehensive look at the power of models in science education, and their use in the Voyage Module. [Included grade level units: K-2, 3-4, 5-8, 9-13]

Earth Systems Science focuses on the interactions of Earth’s four systems: biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.  Lessons are designed to demonstrate that observed phenomena on Earth are not unique to a particular system but arise from a systems interaction.  [Included grade level Units: K-4, 5-8, 9-13]

Staying Cool explores the extreme environment of space, the challenges of operating a spacecraft in such an environment, and the engineering solutions that enable the human race to send spacecraft to study other worlds.  Staying Cool was developed in support of NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft mission to Mercury, and in collaboration with the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  [Included grade level Units: PreK-1, 2-4, 5-8, 9-13]

Building a Permanent Human Presence in Space explores the nature of the space environment and the challenges it imposes for life; why we would want to put humans in space; and how we would construct a permanent space habitat.  [Included grade level Units:  K-4, 5-8, 9-13]

Are There Other Neighborhoods Like Our Own?  Searching for Abodes of Life in the Universe explores the essential requirements for life in ‘our neighborhood’, and uses this case study as a means of searching for other abodes of life.  [Grades K-4: Earth-Moon system; Grades 5-8: Solar System; Grades 9-13 Universe]

Customized Curriculum

Taken together, the Modules’ content is broad enough for it to be mapped onto a school district’s standards of teaching and learning in the earth and space sciences, and a customized compendium of lessons, at particular grade levels, can be assembled for implementation as some or all of the district’s curriculum.  

Development of an entire customized Earth Systems Science course at the high school level is also available through adaptation of undergraduate courses developed and implemented across 57 colleges and universities under USRA’s ESSE21 Program (Earth Systems Science for the 21st Century). A 2007 ESSE21 Design Guide provides a compendium of course frameworks across the ESS21 university network.  It serves as a menu of approaches that can be adopted and modified for a high school course.

©2008, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education