- Middle school students in Peoria, Illinois spoke with an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) during a summer STEM Academy, wrote District Administration.
- Students had spent the week writing code that followed the ISS on its orbit so they could speak with astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor during a five-minute window.
- Besides talking about outer space, students also use virtual reality to simulate what it would be like to work on Mars collecting materials, and working with various vehicles that may be used on the planet.
Having students hear from real-world professionals can give them a chance to see how their education may impact their lives after school. Children get more than just excited when parents come to Career Day; they also see what they could become themselves one day, whether that’s a scientist, lawyer or artist.
In Juneau, Alaska, some students took part in the SouthEast Exchange, a program that linked STEM professionals, artists, photographers and people in the Native community with pupils who learned about the Bering Sea. One 7th grade teacher found students saw that what they studied in class could affect choices they may make as adults.
Bringing professionals into classrooms can also enhance student “eagerness to learn” about science, as a 2007 study published in the CBE Life Sciences Education journal found. The Christensen Institute offers a number of online resources where administrators and educator can turn bringing in guests online — from STEM experts to professional dancers — all meant to crack open the door so students can see the opportunities that one day await them.