Reflections about learning from a high school senior: guest blog post

Students in our Space Technology class at Gahanna Lincoln High School just completed a space simulation in which they were asked to design a rover that would complete specific tasks. In years past, they would do a space shuttle simulation. But this year, science teacher, Fred Donelson (@mrdglhs) changed things up a bit to simulate the landing on and mining of materials from an asteroid.  According to Mr. Donelson, “students will be simulating a landing by using bounce technology to drop a robot down the stairway.  They are also building a rover, remotely controlled via the internet, to remove a debris field from a mine and then collect/mine some minerals.  And a PR team will communicate all of this to visitors.”

Each year, I am simply amazed by what the students do! I wanted a student to share his experience of participating in the simulation so I invited Gahanna Lincoln High School senior, Jonathan Harrison to be a guest blogger. I’ve had the pleasure of being Jonathan’s principal since he was in the sixth grade and I couldn’t be more proud of him!

Project Vesta Reflection

               There is too much to be said for a project my group and I spent over a month on completing. One of the reasons I took Space Technology was because of the teacher, Mr. Donelson. He is one of the most interactive teachers I have ever had and I feel like he really wants his kids to succeed. Yes, I do understand that every teacher, for the most part, wants their kids to succeed in their class, but Mr. D does so much more. He uses inventive ways to teach such as social networks: always posting on Facebook and Twitter to keep his students updated on certain things going on in the class. It really helps not having to jump through hoops to find out what is due the next day. He also makes sure all of his students understand the material he is presenting, which is the most important. Students who needed the extra help could always find it, no matter if it was during the school week, on the weekends or even over holiday breaks. We had put in many hours to our project, but it was nothing compared to the hours Mr. D put in.

               With that being said, my group wanted to put in just as much work towards our project as Mr. D had put into us. We wanted to go above and beyond our expectations and really knock the socks off not only our competition, but our whole community. Personally I feel like we exceeded our goals and really showed people what teenagers are capable of producing. It also showed people how social networking can really effect a student’s education. We were able to contact teachers, administrators and other educators not only from all over the country, but across the globe. It was really eye-opening to see something we use for leisure everyday open up a lot of opportunities to further your education. That was really cool and something I enjoyed doing.

               The objective was to land your egg rover on the asteroid Vesta. Once there you had to clear debris and mine minerals that would act as important substances we need here on Earth. Each 6 person team was split up in 3 teams of two. The three teams were the Rover team, Lander team and the Public Relations team.

               Personally, I was on the Public Relations team. We had a lot of things to complete while this project went on. We had to develop a teaching video on space colonization, which will be a factor in our lives. The catch was that it had to be suitable for middle school students, who cannot read nearly as fast as high school seniors. We had to edit multiple times, which was extremely frustrating. But we finished it and it turned out very nicely. Next we had to make a documentary video. This basically outlined everything we did throughout the whole project. We had to keep record of everything that happened with videos and photos. We also had to “get our name out there.” I thought that what we were doing was very cool and interesting and I wanted other people to know also. I made a website, Facebook group and a Twitter account for everyone to communicate back and forth. In a few days we had educators from all over the world commenting on our progress and they were really interested in what Team Chronos, (our team name, @TeamChronos), was doing that day. They would ask for information on everything we had knowledge on, which was pretty cool. It’s not every day that an adult comes to a teenager and asks them for information so that they can teach their kids what we found out. Lastly we had to make a team brochure, which had to include each team’s mission, a small bio on each Team Chronos member and the whole team’s objective. We had a lot of fun with this, because we had made two different brochures. One was funny and the other was professional. It was awesome coming up with fake bio’s that made someone laugh.

               As a group, I could not have asked for a better group of guys to work with. We all had the same mindset and goals to accomplish during this project. Dedication, hard work and good work ethic benefitted our group unlike it did for others. We split up the work equally, and the only arguments we had was who was going to finish the projects at their homes. Eagerness to get your work done is a quick way to ensure it actually does get completed. Our group’s outlook and attitude was really positive too. When we had an idea we would share it with one another, get their opinions and find a way to improve it. We were not settled with being “good enough,” we wanted to simply be the best space tech team to ever pass through Gahanna. With that attitude, our best work came as the result.

               If I were a teacher I would definitely do a project similar to this. It brings out the best in every single student, regardless of GPA, clique or grade. This project would not work if you did not teach like Mr. Donelson however. You have to be interactive and really show the kids that you believe they can achieve great things. If you struggle with showed your students your dedication, you would still have the same kids not caring about their grades and turning in mediocre work at best. That is not helping anybody. What we’re doing here is something BIG. Rovers, space stations, alternative energy and time travel are all going to be something our generation deals with, so why not learn about them now? It is helping out our future and possibly getting kids interested in robotics and space which can open up to more career opportunities. I would definitely recommend this project to any teacher willing to dedicate time to a child’s learning. They have to want a better future for us and for their grandchildren.

               Overall I am very grateful for the opportunity to take this class. It teaches you a lot about your surroundings as well as a little bit about yourself. Also the information we learn today will benefit us tomorrow. These kinds of jobs will be the positions that pay the most and are the most available, especially to Americans. America is slowly declining in the science race and a large part of the blame goes to not educating our children at a young age. It spikes their interest and gives them options for a wide range of careers. This is what the world’s leading competitors do, such as China, Japan and many more. They teach their kids engineering and robotics at a very young age, which is benefitting them now. This project helps us with future projects that can really impact our lives. This information we gain is irreplaceable and I can never thank Mr. Donelson and Gahanna Lincoln High School enough for allowing me to take such a wonderful class.

This is also posted at Mr. Carter’s Office

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