An International Preschool-Grade 12 Academy 

NASA visit sparks innovation in GEMS classrooms

Peg Keiner, director of innovation at GEMS World Academy Chicago, was one of 20 people chosen to tour one of NASA’s research facilities last month.

Ms. Keiner toured the Glenn Research Center  in Cleveland, OH. The labs she visited specialize in vacuum facilities for ion thrusters that are used to carry cargo, as well as supersonic wind tunnels used to test aircraft. Ms. Keiner was able to see the equipment up close, talk to engineers and even walk through a wind tunnel.
“It was a dream come true to be invited for a behind-the-scenes tour at NASA,” Ms. Keiner said. “The experience made me realize the rigorous and critical testing needed for all designs before they can be implemented in exploratory space missions.” 
GEMS World Academy teachers and students have experimented with virtual reality and “augmented reality” tools in the past, and Ms. Keiner said she was particularly interested in seeing how similar tools are used at NASA.
“I was found a lot of similarities between the technology we are currently using in school and the ideas explored at NASA’s Graphics and Visualization Lab,” she said.
GEMS teachers are committed to taking advantage of professional development activities outside of school and then applying that experience to their classroom inquiries. The academic approach at GEMS, which combines the International Baccalaureate with a focus on technology and design, makes the school a great fit for lessons learned at NASA, Ms. Keiner said.
“It has been a joy to share my 360-degree videos and photos with several grade levels and bring the innovation from NASA to our school,” she said.


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