$434,110 grant could give students link to NASA

May 12, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County students could use computers to tap directly into NASA data bases in their math and science classes, if the school system gets the $434,110 grant proposed by two school department administrators.

Janie Zimmer-Long, mathematics supervisor, and Lee Summerville, science supervisor, will ask the school board today for permission to seek the three-year grant offered by the Washington, D.C.-based National Science Foundation, in conjunction with National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its subcontractor, Computer Services Co.

The two administrators want the grant to develop a software program that would give students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, access to NASA computer data on such subjects as the ozone layer, wind speed and Earth's temperature.

For the students, "it'll make science real," Ms. Summerville said, noting that teachers would be able to get printouts in the classroom from NASA data bases.

If the county were to get the grant, teachers would spend the first year with NASA scientists developing a software program that would give schools access to the agency's computerized data bases.

During the second year, teachers would learn how to use the program, and the last year would focus on expanding the project.

Ms. Summerville said that the grant would give teachers the ability to provide an added dimension to their science and math instruction.

In other business scheduled for tonight's meeting, the school board will get a report on the pending accreditation evaluations of Mount Hebron and Wilde Lake high schools.

Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges, a regional accreditation organization, was scheduled to evaluate Wilde Lake High School next academic year, but is expected to postpone its three-day visit for two years while the school is rebuilt, said Dr. Daniel L. Jett, instructional director of high schools.

However, Mount Hebron still may have its evaluation in the 1994-1995 academic year, said Dr. Jett.

Each decade, a team of 20 to 26 secondary school officials from the mid-Atlantic region visits county high schools to evaluate curriculum, teaching methods, extracurricular activities and other programs.

To prepare for the three-day visit, teachers, staff, students and parents at each school complete a year-long "self-study," examining the same areas that the accreditation team will review.

The entire process gives schools a chance to determine their strengths and weaknesses, Dr. Jett said.

"You need to take a good, hard look at yourself," Dr. Jett said. "It really makes the staff and the community communicate."

The board also will hear a report on student laboratory assistant courses, which let students earn credits by helping teachers in English, math, media and other subjects.

The report states that the laboratory-assistant program at some high schools offers a well-defined curriculum with prescribed objectives, performance standards and exams. But the program is less well-defined at other schools, the report said, without specifying the schools.

The nine-member committee that prepared the report recommended continuing the program and urged schools to be more uniform in how they implement the laboratory assistant courses.

The board meeting will take place at school department headquarters at 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City.

The meeting is to start at 4 p.m. with a "listening post" session, when people can bring up an items not on the agenda.

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