Brief Description of the Site:
This NASA site (Goddard Space and Flight Center - gsfc.nasa.gov) seeks to provide earth science resources for teachers of grades K-8. The focus is to teach children about remote sensing and imaging through interactive adventures of characters in literature. Activity books are used to explain the importance of using satellite imagery to better understand habitats, local geographic features, and the environment from space. Leveled activities using aerial photography introduce the concept of perspective to children in a way to better understand their world.
How to use the site:
"Echo the Bat" and "Amelia the Pigeon" guide visitors through adventures that teach various science concepts. Through Echo's travels through Arizona children learn about the Electromagnetic Spectrum, clearly defined in terms children can understand that include animations of various wavelengths. There are grade appropriate lesson plans for teachers on light, remote sensing, and biodiversity, all correlating to Science Benchmarks and Standards. There's even an "Echo the Bat" popup book with activity sheets, but one must buy the book separately at another site for $8 at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/educators/environment.html. "Amelia" is the interactive story of a New York City pigeon who acquires a camera through her owner (a child in Brooklyn). That provides the means to introduce satellite imagery as Amelia explores from the air a number of urban places. The music, graphics, photography, animation and video in this adventure are worth the visit not only for the story, but for ideas on how to present children's literature online. The accompanying audio tells the story delighting emerging as well as proficient readers. Site visitors follow instructions that allow them to direct this pigeon photographer to alight on specified destinations. Adults will also find it charming. The bat is adorable, but this pigeon is the site winner in engaging children in learning activities through story. NASA provides a background to all aspects of the storylines, lithographs, NYC satellite (Landsat 7) images of familiar or famous landmarks in .pdf format that can bring the level up as appropriate. The concepts covered can be used for weeks through teacher directed activities or student independent work. This deserves a spot on your "Favorites" list.