“Does free get better than this?” wonders blogger and former teacher Michael Gorman, writing about this extensive middle school curriculum that is no longer free, but still compelling. The roots of the JASON Project are in early telepresence videos that allowed students to follow along with real-life explorers (including founder Dr. Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic) on their journeys. Today, the supplemental curriculum is designed to get 5th-8th grade students excited about STEM subjects by providing them with “missions” that require them to use science and math skills to solve real and realistic problems. Materials include videos, articles and a variety of lesson plans and other resources for teachers, many featuring the contributions of working scientists from organizations like NASA, NOAA and the US Department of Energy. Teachers and students can search the online JASON Mission Control by subject or standard to get access to all the curriculum resources, plus digital labs and games that add a dose of urgency to the main curriculum. Popular activities include a roller coaster creator, a hurricane path prediction activity (using real tropical storm data), planning for alternative energy sources for a fictitious city, and navigation of various deep sea vessels by plotting wind and sea currents.
Through the JASON Store, online access ranges from $95 for a family to $295 for a classroom to $12,000 for a 1500-student school.
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