Practice English Speaking&Listening with: GEMS Video

Difficulty: 0

[Upbeat futuristic music]


[Female Instructor] What do you predict is gonna happen?

Which one do you think will fall more slowly and hit the ground last,

the hammer or the feather?


[Female student] I predict the feather would fall uh last because its really light.

[Andrew Fraknoi] Kids come into even the most basic of science classes with a repertoire

of ideas developed from their everyday experience.

It's a kind of reality that kids have constructed for themselves, but it may not correspond

to the actual reality with which the universe presents us,

and aligning those two realities can be one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks

of a science teacher.

How do you take a child's understanding of nature and bring that understanding in line

with what nature's actually doing in a way that is satisfying for the kids themselves.

The key idea in the GEMS program, the way that uh science is approached, is to give kids

the tools to discover the ideas and facts for themselves.

To put together a kind of mental picture of how the world works by gathering data,

by comparing what we know to different possible ideas or theories, coming to a conclusion,

and talking about it.

[Music begins]

[Student 1] I don't think the planet would go - would be in uh basically a line going that way.

[Student 2] Yeah, that's what I was gonna say too.

[Isabel Hawkins] NASA uh has been involved in uh education and public outreach uh since

its inception almost 50 years ago, and they support activities such as development of curriculum materials

for K-12th, for students and educators starting from the very young uh because its important

to inspire uh the children from the very beginning.

[Male teacher] What I'm gonna be doing is I'm gonna back up, and I want you to be looking

at your planet X and planet Venus at the same time, and when I back up,

and they look like they're about the same size, I want you to raise your hand.

[Isabel Hawkins] And that's why NASA has invested into uh this wonderful resource,

the formalized ideas into a curriculum material called the GEMS Space Science Sequence,

so that educators and students can take uh all of that knowledge and that inspiration

and put it into a practical application that will help them through uh all walks of life.

[Music begins]

[Female teacher] I want you to predict, what

do you suppose is gonna happen with Mercury and Venus and Earth as Mars does Mars' orbit.

In your head, make your prediction, one, two, three.

[Rhythmic clapping]

[Male narrator] The students in this classroom

are forming a human model of the solar system.

They're grappling with complex concepts about the behavior of objects in space and learning

through doing.

This human oral activity is just one of the activities in the solar system unit

of the GEMS Space Science Sequence for middle school students.

[Bryan Mendez] Oh we've had an experience with the Lawrence Hall of Science even going

back before the Sequence in working with them to develop curriculum, and the kind of curriculum

they do is very appealing because it fits in well with the way scientists actually do science.

[Teacher] Mercury, what'd you do?

[Student] I had to go around more.

[Teacher] What happened for you Venus?

[Student] Uhm I'm still going on the same circle.

[Bryan Mendez] Its hands on, its minds on, it gets students thinking about the activities

that they're doing, trying to teach the content to them at a deeper level rather than just having

them memorize facts to regurgitate on a test.

These are the kind of people that are doing curriculum that really fit well with NASA's goals.

[Narrator] GEMS curriculum sequences consist of units, each varying in length with each

unit focused on carefully selected foundational concepts.

Curriculum sequences provide in-depth instruction around a core of essential concepts that address

educational standards with the goal of building student's conceptual knowledge and inquiry abilities.

[Jacqueline Barber] Building a chance for students to learn in depth uhm involves creating

a sequence, a collection of activities that build on each

other, that are coherent, that enable them to become experts.

So when we set about to develop the sequences, we had scientists around the table helping

us figure out what is really the most essential content in the discipline.

[Man] So the first unit on scale, in that we go: what's in space, what've you seen in

space? the sun and the moon you've seen those right?

And the earth we're standing on, you've seen that.

So these are three things we've seen, let's focus on those ones, that's something we've

decided in this group.

Let's focus on three things they can actually see.

[Narrator] We like to think of the GEMS curriculum sequences as curricula that's cognition based,

taken into account what cognitive scientists have come up with over the last ten years

about how kids learn.

They might be reading, and they might be doing, but the goal is they're understanding over time.

[Teacher] We've added three more of these to the concept wall today, and I'd like to

ask someone to read this first one that goes to here.

Who would like to read that one?

[Student] Air resistance acts against the movement of objects though air.

[Narrator] Instruction in the GEMS curriculum sequences emphasizes key concepts.

These concepts are derived from the national science education standards, Triple AS benchmarks

for science literacy, and multiple state standards.

This ensures that teachers can directly align their presentation of sequences to the standards

they are expected to teach and provides a scaffold for further instruction, helping

students articulate specific learnings and place what they learn in context.

Sequences are flexible enough to be taught all in a single year or over several years

across the designated range of grades.

This allows schools to teach topics at grade levels specified by local standards and to

apportion the time devoted to a particular topic to best suit their needs.

[Greg Schultz] One of the principal strategies for years for GEMS has been that all their curriculum

that they produce is rigorously tested in real classrooms uhm,

and we certainly employ that here as well.

We had initial pilot testing in local classrooms which became a national field test which went

out to teachers in classrooms around the country.

[Narrator] The units are designed to build on one another,

but are also written so individual units can be taught stand alone

[Teacher] Here's something that I have that helps me to find out what you're thinking.

It's called a questionnaire.

[Narrator] Each sequence has an integrated assessment system including pre and post unit

questionnaire and embedded assessments that allow the teacher to gauge student progress

throughout the unit.

In addition, critical junctures appear at points in the unit where students must grasp

a key concept before they can successfully move on.

Providing more experience activities are suggested as need to support and facilitate student learning.

When a teacher gets a curriculum sequence, what she's gonna get is a teacher's guide

that explains what she needs to present the unit.

So that includes not only step by step suggestion for how to go through a particular session

but it includes information related to management, related to science content.

[Teacher] Remember yesterday, we couldn't agree what the last planet was going to be

from the cards, and it was number eight which was planet Mercury.

[Female narrator] We have some just in time information that enables her to read a bit of brief background

at an adult level that helps prepare her to present that information.

We include pedagogical content knowledge, accommodations that you might make for struggling

readers, for English language learners, optional activities that you can do if you have more

time and wanna engage more in a hands on way.

[Narrator] They teacher's guide is carefully organized for easy use.

The left hand side of the guide provides step by step presentation instructions.

The right hand side contains a wide range of scientific information, pedagogical guidance,

assessment suggestions, and ideas to help students who are having difficulties.

It also includes descriptions of instructional routines that repeat throughout the sequence.

The students in this classroom participate in a routine called an evidence circle.

[Students chatter]

[Narrator] Evidence circles provide students

with the opportunity to collect and discuss evidence to support explanations.

Like scientists, they try to convince their peers that there is evidence for their conclusions.

They learned that science is evidence-based and gained valuable experience in the language

of science,

scientific argumentation and making explanations from evidence.

A complete materials kit supports

the activities in the curriculum sequences.

[Teacher] Yeah but astronaut dropped a hammer and a feather on the moon, what do you think would happen?

[Narrator] The space science sequences also include a CD-rom that features videos, images,

and simulations, a tool that field testers found to be a powerful aid to learning.

[Teacher] What did happen to the feather and the hammer when he dropped them?

[Student] When they drop down both of them went down at the same time.

[Narrator] Another highlight of the curriculum sequences is the use of short readings.

These readings place what students are learning in a real-life context, describing people

who have played key roles in advancing science or current discoveries and issues.

When we begin to think now anew about how to teach science, we are looking at giving

kids a sense of becoming players in their own understanding and that's what this curriculum

does well.

Getting kids to act like scientists is one of the most important things we can do for

them and not just for their science learning.

Teaching science through this kind of inquiry based approach and giving kids lots of chances

to inquire, to learn, to argue, to examine facts is a skill which can stand them in good

stead for the rest of their lives.

So if we're going to equip kids for the 21st century and maybe their kids for the 22nd century,

we have to allow them to be consumers not just of what we know but how we know it.


The Description of GEMS Video