NatGeo Educators

Student Work

Recently I was honored to be interviewed for the NatGeo Educator Spotlight. They interviewed me about my capstone I did for them on their certification. You can read about their certification National Geographic Certification.  I’m always a bit hesitant of being interviewed, but it turned out okay and I’m happy to have shared my project with everyone.

Now for the project I’m not sure if I did write about the project in the past. But as you read through the interview you will get an idea what’s about. I used the Book reading project we do in class and integrated the maps from National Geographic. During the year I give a book reading project, students in class read Rocket Boys and Hidden Figures. Two great books by the way. Students are given a schedule for reading, I would recommend this, I found it helpful for the students. My sophomores knew exactly what pages they had to have done by a certain date. Feedback from students indicated this kept them on track, even for my Honors class.

Rocket Boys Book Project

When completing their reading they had to answer questions on a google form and then they were to create a presentation answering the questions posted on the assignment sheet. I changed things up a bit, by choosing different groups to present after each section was completed. I decided the year after I had implemented this project, I would adjust it and assign the “Hidden Figures” book. Last year was the first year we did both books. The only changes I’m going to make for next  year is I will assign this project in the 2nd Semester. I’m flipping the Genius Hour project with this project.

West Virg

To enhance the Rocket Boys Project I used National Geographic Maps and Mapmaker.  Basically the goal of the lesson was to get students to understand the different resources (geological)  in each state. Using the maps the students needed to create a legend and indicate on the maps the resources and geology of the states. During the activity we highlighted West Virginia and Coal Mining. Integrating some of the readings from Rocket Boys. They also learned about their own state and its resources.  Feedback from the students was great, they gave some ideas on how to improve the activity.  

The project was my capstone for the certification. I would recommend the program to anyone who would like to become a part of the NatGeo Education community.

For those of you who are interested here are the National Standards I addressed with this project: HS-ESS3-1 Earth and Human Activity and HS-ESS3-3 Earth and Human Activity.

National Geographic Education Twitter: @NatGeoEducation



Explosive Volcano? Just Add Water

via Explosive Volcano? Just Add Water

Studying volcanoes in class next year, this would be a great time to talk about Kilauea. Tons of resources out there about the event. NatGeo has a great page for teachers with a ton of resources.

Up, Up and Away


An amazing opportunity was presented to us when a parent offered to help launch a weather balloon for our school. I’ve been trying to do this for a long time. When the student came forward and offered to have his father work with us I jumped at the chance.  Awesome! That is all I could think. What an educational opportunity for my students. Plus, it fit in with the curriculum that I was teaching in class; meteorology. It also was an event the whole school could take part in. Which did happen.

The launch was sponsored by the Science Department and Space Explorers Club. Once we had our launch date, Earth Day, one of our students created a mission patch for the event. Using the mission patch we created buttons to hand out at Earth Day. I then had a student create our payload, he 3D printed the Banner for our Astronaut. It was a great opportunity to get students involved in the event.

So it didn’t go as planned, launch day had to be rescheduled due to weather. So we decided to launch the week after. And that was probably a good idea because the landing predictor had the balloon heading towards the coast, it seems the Jet Stream was pretty fast that day.  Below you see the comparison between the predicted and actual path of the balloon. After launch we tracked the balloon to Pine Level, NC.

The balloon reached 92,000 ft, something we didn’t expect. Part of the payload were two PocketLabs, one we had taking readings of altitude and accelerometer.  The other measured all the weather variables. You can find some of the information in the Google Folder.  A video was made to commemorate the event,  2018 Balloon Launch. 

Overall the event went well, but we are going to have to fix a couple of things. First the PocketLabs can record over 30,000 data points. Problem is that we didn’t set the sensors to take 1 reading per 2 or 5 minutes. Instead it took readings every half second. So it shut down too early. So reminder, change data point readings. Second, the Samsung 360 settings have to change so it can record better footage for stitching. Here is the final version of the 360 footage. And finally, we are going to let this be a student driven event. Meaning we are going to allow the students to pretty much take over the launch.

It was a great educational opportunity and we plan on having another launch next year.

The Space Age and a New Age for Health Care: The Technology of Saving Lives (Op-Ed)

The lives we save from an app apply directly to the lifeblood of the space program. The two are inseparable, as they should be, because what happens in space leads to advances here on Earth.

Source: The Space Age and a New Age for Health Care: The Technology of Saving Lives (Op-Ed)

Want to teach your students about “Why NASA is so important”, use this as a resource. There are many ways to help students understand the importance of what NASA does.



What About Teacher Flourishing? – Dave Stuart Jr.

We talk a lot about flourishing here at the blog, and that’s good because it’s the whole point of schooling. Schools exist to promote the long-term flourishing of kids. In the best schools, the adults who facilitate all of this are flourishing, too. The most rigorous study of human flourishing that I’m aware of is […]

Source: What About Teacher Flourishing? – Dave Stuart Jr.

This sounds like a great idea to start a blog for the summer. I know I’m way behind in my blog entries, I’m hoping to get a couple out in the next couple of weeks. But if your stuck on some reflection questions or ideas, these are a really good start.

Kīlauea Volcano Erupts

UPDATE, 5/24/18, 8:12am HST

Source: Kīlauea Volcano Erupts

This is great site for teachers to keep up to date on the Volcano. Also great resource to use when teaching about plate tectonics and volcanoes. I especially like the maps.

Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff | Edutopia

Source: Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff | Edutopia

Reflection is the big one I think. Right now that is what I’m doing, its called the end of the year.

Oculus Go Review: Standalone VR Priced for the Masses

Nearly seven months after its announcement back in October 2017, Oculus Go, the company’s first standalone VR headset, is finally here. The company’s thesis is that this affordably priced unit, which doesn’t rely on a docked smartphone, will make for a more seamless mobile VR experience. But does it go above and beyond Gear VR? […]

Source: Oculus Go Review: Standalone VR Priced for the Masses

Think about this, phone costs at least a hundred and a good VR headset costs about 50.00, so for 50.00 more you could have both.  I think this might be a viable option. But I would wait to let them get the kinks out first. Future Purchase?? Maybe.

Sunspots Vanishing Faster than Expected

May 1, 2018: Sunspots are becoming scarce. Very scarce. So far in 2018 the sun has been blank almost 60% of the time, with whole weeks going by without sunspots. Today’s sun, shown here in an image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, is typical of the featureless solar disk:


The fact that sunspots are vanishing comes as no surprise. Forecasters have been saying for years that this would happen as the current solar cycle (“solar cycle 24”) comes to an end. The surprise is how fast.

“Solar cycle 24 is declining more quickly than forecast,” announced NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center on April 26th. This plot shows observed sunspot numbers in blue vs. the official forecast in red:


“The smoothed, predicted sunspot number for April-May 2018 is about 15,” says NOAA. “However, the actual monthly values have been [significantly] lower.”

“Official” forecasts of the solar cycle come from NOAA’s Solar…

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Infiniscope Advisory Group

So I began a new opportunity this year, I joined an advisory board. Not something I thought I would be interested in or want to do. But I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I applied and was accepted on the Infiniscope Advisory board. Infiniscope is a project created by ASU and part of the NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.  The website is host to a number of interactive lessons that are being beta tested. Since being picked to be on the board I had the opportunity to test a lesson from the website; Celestial Jukebox. I thought it was really great how it used sound/music to help understand Kepler Laws. Students used music to try and figure out the patterns exhibited by planets in different orbits. It’s really cool way of explaining Kepler Laws, plus it addresses NGSS 3D learning. The Teacher’s Lesson guide does a good job of guiding you through the lesson.

I’m impressed by the other lessons that appear on the website. The opportunity to be a part of this advisory board has opened up new opportunities to learn about new lessons and also learn more about NGSS 3D learning. We recently reviewed  a lesson with the NGSS rubric. I’ve never used the rubric before so this was a new experience for me. The rubric addresses the 3 Dimensional learning of the Next Generation standards. The EQulP Rubric lists various criteria that review a lesson.

The purpose of the rubric and review process is to: (1) review existing lessons and units to determine what revisions are needed; (2) provide constructive criterion-based feedback and suggestions for improvement to developers; (3) identify examples/models for teachers’ use within and across states; and (4) to inform the development of new lessons, units, and other instructional materials. 

We used this to review a lesson that is being Beta tested on the Infiniscope website. I learned a lot through the process, it started to get me thinking about my lessons and how they would stand up to this scrutiny.  It’s a good guide to use when creating a lesson if your district or state has adopted the NGSS.

If your interested in the lessons on the Infinscope feel free to use the link in this post to get to the website. Check out the information below about the research they are doing to find other topics for interactive lessons.

The Infiniscope Digital Teaching Network is seeking your help! Infiniscope is based out of Arizona State University and funded by NASA. Infiniscope specializes in creating digital learning experiences around NASA data and visualizations that are tightly aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and are built for all audiences. We are inviting you, to share your personal experience with simulations you have used with your audiences (in and out of the classroom) or ones you wish you could find to reach students struggling with the content you are trying to communicate. 


Your participation in this study will involve the completion of a Qualtrics survey using the provided link below. This survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes. By completing the questionnaire, you will be entered in a drawing to win one of four Amazon gift cards. Survey closes April 30th and winners will be named May 1st.


If you would like to participate, please click the link below to take the survey. The survey will be available until April 30, 2018 at


Thank you so much for your willingness to assist us with this important area of research!