COMmunities Educating Tomorrow's Scientists (COMETS)
COMETS targets 200 low-income, underrepresented and minority students at five community centers in Charleston, WV, for inclusion in a NASA-centered informal science education program.
The three-year "COMmunities Educating Tomorrow's Scientists (COMETS)" project is implementing an earth and space science program with the focus of learning science as inquiry through Marshall University, with partners NASA IV&V Educator Resource Center, Kanawha County Schools, Bayer Crop Science Corporation, and the West Virginia Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences. COMETS targets 200 low-income, underrepresented and minority students at five community centers in Charleston, WV, for inclusion in a NASA-centered informal science education program.
Through innovative hands-on investigations coordinated with students' formal curricula this program seeks to excite, inspire, promote academic achievement, and expand regular school time learning experiences for students in grades 3-5. The COMETS parent program, "The Family Tree," is an embracing center that makes an aggressive, deliberate effort to reach parents and custodians of elementary and middle school students to encourage them to help their children achieve their academic goals in math and science and realize the connection between their lives and science. In addition to enhancing achievement, the anticipated outcomes of COMETS include promoting positive attitudes toward science education by parents and students, inspiring students to choose science for their future education and employment paths, and improving the knowledge and appreciation of earth and space sciences in participating educators.
Through the professional development of approximately 50 formal, informal, and pre-service educators, both "COMETS" students and other students of these trained educators learn science as inquiry and are exposed to high quality curricula and materials for approximately two hours per week during the academic year and four hours per week during the six-week summer program. Participating educators collaborate in vertical teams through a professional learning community to guide COMETS activities which will support and complement formal curricula.