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Donation to teachers will energize Yuma students
Sixth-grade science teachers and students within Yuma Elementary District 1 now have additional resources for their classroom thanks to a recent donation.
A group of 15 instructors received Dark Skies and Energy Education Kits on Wednesday from NOAO (National Optical Astronomy Observatory), paid for by a $62,671 grant from APS (Arizona Public Service) Foundation. NOAO, the U.S. national research and development center for ground-based astronomy based in Tuscon, earned the funds for Yuma based on its work in the Dark Skies Energy Education Program: Energy Awareness for a Sustainable Future.
Along with two days of professional development led by the NOAO education and public outreach team, kits were presented to teachers including an iPad-Mini, an adaptor to connect to interactive displays and a digital Sky Quality Meter that measures night sky brightness. It also includes light pollution games and activities, videos and reading resources as well as other reference materials and simulations.
“The kit and the curricular materials will help teach students how energy can be conserved through proper lighting, as well as the biological effects of light on local plant and animal life,” stated a NOAO release. “...The entire program is designed to help teachers educate students, parents, and the community to identify dark sky resources and lighting and energy issues, and to assess their status, efficiency, and effectiveness.”
NOAO Education Department head and project director Stephen Pompea explained that the curriculum given to teachers is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core Standards.
“This program is not something in left field, but rather very core to our current Arizona education system, and the teachers will have no trouble implementing this because it's teaching what they're already supposed to be teaching. It's not something new they have to implement,” said Pompea.
Julie Coleman, executive director of the APS Foundation and manager of Corporate Giving, said that besides the contribution of funds as part of their recent shift to fund STEM initiatives, their organization is also providing the opportunity for teachers to have APS employees present to students on energy generation and delivery concepts.
“We want to invest in kids, we want to spark interest and keep that passion alive because they are our future workforce... We want to keep them here in Arizona to retain that bright talent that we know is here,” she said.
Pompea explained that students will be using the kit to pursue an energy conservation research project that will be presented at a family science night on May 3 to give families and community members the ability to view their work.
He said that they chose to bring this project to Yuma based on their response to a previous program for District 1 fifth-graders assembling Galileoscopes – donated from the Arizona Science Foundation – and holding a star-gazing party with the community afterward.
“That was such a successful project, and the support we got from the teachers and from the district officials was so great that when we had an opportunity to propose a new project, we immediately thought of Yuma and we thought it would be a great match,” Pompea said.