COSMOS and the Classroom - myfoxcarolinas.com

COSMOS and the Classroom

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Using COSMOS in the Classroom Using COSMOS in the Classroom
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Matthews, NC -

Galileo. Isaac Newton. Albert Einstein. Chances are if you have been in a science class, you have heard those names, among many other great scientists. They all made significant and life changing contributions to science.

But where do we go from here? As the next generation arises, what iconic discoveries will they be known for? Who will be the next Isaac Newton?

One 7th grade science teacher at Mint Hill Middle School in Matthews is taking on that task by dropping the textbook and hitting the play button. Using a show you all know and love- Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

If neon and big hair remind you of the 80's, then you probably remember the original Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, where Carl Sagan took us on a journey around the universe in 1980.

Cosmos revolutionized science documentaries and influenced adolescents around the world. Carl Sagan inspired Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who now takes us on a new odyssey every week.

Ms. Stefania Przystanski, or lovingly known as Ms. P to her students, knows that it takes more than formulas and laws to spark an interest in the hearts of students. It takes facts and imagination.

“The art side and the science side. Logic and imagination is really key to put that together. And to be successful in life and to help the world and help with the problems we are facing today. We need imagination not just really good math kids or really good science kids. We need well-rounded kids.”

Cosmos takes both art and science and combines them in such a visual and enticing way that no matter your age or background, you will find something to love. Ms. P knew that Cosmos on FOX was the golden ticket.

“When I heard Cosmos is coming to FOX, I was really excited…I wanted to use it because I wanted to show that passion. They use the imagination spaceship kind of thing and I really want kids to use their imagination…To kind of show that science is not all written already. We need to be able to use our imagination to get to the next level and kind of help the innovators of the future.”

She chose Cosmos’ third episode, “When Knowledge Conquered Fear,” since the episode discusses Isaac Newton and the struggles he faced.

“Isaac Newton is kind of this guy everybody knows, the Laws of Motion…always pictured with an apple. So I kind of wanted to show that his history wasn’t that easy. That he grew up with a tough childhood. And that he actually had to have somebody help him to get to the point to actually write the Laws of Motion…It makes it a little bit more interesting, the story of scientists.”

Some students believe that they cannot conquer the hurdles in their own life, that equations and scientific laws were easy for the great scientists of our time. But it wasn’t, and anyone who is ready to take on the challenge can succeed.

Ms. P wants to show her students that they can overcome any obstacle. “I really want to get these kids to think that they could be that scientist. They don’t have to be from some really rich neighborhood or something like that, that they could be like Newton and have a tough childhood and then push and push and push and have a really cool job and be known for really cool stuff.”

The lights went down and with just the click of a button; her science class was transported to another world, the final frontier. Until the next class bell, every student was enthralled as they journeyed through the universe and saw through the eyes of one of the greatest scientists of all time. The road may not be easy to discovery, but it is rewarding.

Needless to say, it was a hit. The students love science and they love Cosmos.

“I think Cosmos is a really unique way to explain science. These types of shows I’m not really interested in, but just the way they explained it, it was really understandable and fun,” said Ruchi, one of Ms. P’s students.

After class, Maddie mentioned, “I like how they explain things. They kind of put it in kids-version, but adults can understand it too.”

Emma enjoyed Cosmos’ presentation. “It was kind of informational but it was fun to learn.”

The cartoon animations throughout the episode stirred up quite the talk after class.

Jake really liked the show. “I think it was good because the cartoons made it really easy to understand.”

Katy normally doesn’t like watching videos about science, but gives Cosmos two thumbs up. “It seems weird, like ‘eww science,’ why are they making a TV show about it?! But they added the cartoons, so it’s like cool-science!”

The intro to the show really caught Sierra’s eye.

“At the beginning, when it was like the eye, then it went in, and it said ‘COSMOS,’ and it was like ‘O’ with the eye.”

Though it was only one class, Ms. P utilized Cosmos to send her students around the galaxy and back, without any of them having to leave their seat. When the bell rang for the next class, they left with more than their backpacks. They left with a seed planted for science. A seed that will grow through the years to come, that’s what science, and Cosmos, is all about. To infinity… and beyond!


Want more COSMOS? Check out their website.

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