Loyola University Chicago

Center for Science and Math Education

NASA Capstone

(This program has been discontinued)

Course in Earth and Space Science

In order to provide students and their teachers with the opportunity to more fully engage in authentic research in astronomy and Earth Science and thus deepen their understanding of these subjects, CPS entered into a partnership with Earth and space science researchers at The Adler Planetarium, DePaul University, The University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Loyola University. After CPS teachers and students worked with the partner researchers for two summers, They developed capstone courses in Earth and Space Science in order to extend the benefits of these programs more widely within CPS.

The Capstone Course for Space Science was a two-year project that had three components:

Capstone Courses in Earth and Space Science
Using the workshops described below as a foundation, CPS and its partners crafted their content and activities into several capstone courses in astronomy and Earth Science research. These courses will give students multiple experiences to conduct experiments and analyze data, and develop a better understanding of how different science disciplines connect synergistically to support discovery.

Each course has been aligned to standards, including Common Core standards and the Next Generation Science Framework. The courses are described online (http://cps-nasa-capstone.wikispaces.com/) and include course goals, standards, and objectives; course pacing and unit plans, including teacher resources; and assessments and rubrics.

In order to provide more background information and supports for teachers electing to teach these capstone courses, this site also has links to background information, NASA data sources, and information from each of the partner institutions.

Intensive month-long workshops
Offered during the summer and developed by the university partners, these were designed to move students into deeper involvement in scientific inquiry. Students worked with experienced scientists and teachers from their school to engage in open- ended research activities. Each of the participating scientists at these institutions is currently engaged in NASA-funded research, and thus was able to provide CPS students and teachers with unique insights into the nature of NASA data and what it tells us about our world and beyond, and also first- hand experience with the research methods used by space scientists. Workshops included:

  • Adler Planetarium: Moon research using data from the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Mission
  • Depaul University: Research on the earth’s atmosphere, using data from the High Altitude Balloon Platform
  • University of Chicago: Research on interstellar medium (gas and dust) using data from the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE), Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) missions.
  • Northwestern University: Investigation of the relationship between melting ice and sea level using data provided by the Jason-1, Grace, Terra, and Quicksat satellites.
  • Loyola University: Research on planetary formation using data obtained from the Kepler Mission

Year-long Science Fair Project
Students who participated in the workshops, with guidance from their teachers, developed and executed a research study using NASA content for the CPS Student Science Fair. Throughout the academic year, the students and their teachers remained in contact with the scientists they worked with during the previous summer, who provided advice and mentoring for the Science Fair projects.

Contact us for more information.