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Star Bright

Anybody out there? Little by little, the universe is yielding its secrets. That comes, in part, thanks to the Hubble telescope, which 20 years ago opened up new outer-space vistas, and to intrepid astronaut-explorers who now have Mars in their sights. Read how a teacher pulls the stars and planets into her classroom. Then ask your students to help make sure the next lunar space crew arrives safely on the moon.

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In this lesson, students in grades 3-8 assume the role of NASA aerospace engineers, designing and building a shock-absorbing system that will protect two marshmallow "astronauts" when they land on the moon. By doing so, students come to understand some of the challenges of human lunar landings.

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Last year, Brittany Hinyard's eighth graders became astronomers. They built solar system models, used software to make planets gravitate toward or apart from each other, and sought information on satellites. Teaching that stresses inquiry, multiple science disciplines, and team learning requires an extra commitment. But for Hinyard, it has brought professional satisfaction -- and prestige.

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A Texas bioengineer believes exposure to university-level research can help better prepare high school students for college science and engineering. He's testing that notion with the help from a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant that brings students into his neuro-tissue lab.

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Attention, teachers: We've just launched a new Facebook page called Teach K-12 Engineering with eGFI! On it you'll find more lesson plans, class activities, feature stories, and K-12 education news. Check it out and tell us what you think!

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Washington, DC 20036-2479

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