Balko K-8 Students Learn About the Universe and Themselves at STEAM+ DAY with Cosmosphere Team


Cosmosphere Educator Theresa Schieck (upper right) advises as Balko Public Schools 4th and 5th Grade students design, build and test the effectiveness of appliances and coverings to protect their balloon “spacecraft” from simulated threatening debris in Earth orbit.


Balko Public Schools students, Grades K through 8th, spent a day using the lessons they are learning in the classroom to solve the kinds of practical problems that they will face as citizens of the United States, inhabitants of the Earth and perhaps even explorers in space. Sponsored by the school’s QZAB STEM+ Academy, and utilizing programing and educators from the Cosmosphere International Science Education Center and Space Museum as a resource, students participated in the first session of a year-long series of STEAM+ activities. These in-school events will lead to an intensely exciting culminating program of hands on activities using the unique facilities, equipment and simulators at the Cosmosphere International Science Education Center and Space Museum.

“We are excited to partner with the Cosmosphere as a resource that helps us answer the age-old question asked by students everywhere: ‘I’ll never use (fill in the subject), so why do I need to know it?’ ” said

Larry Mills, Superintendent of Balko Public Schools.  “The expertise, resources and facilities they bring to our students’ scholastic experience compliments the talent and efforts of our outstanding team of educators. “

During this first installment, K-2 students learned the importance of clear and precise verbal communications, 4th and 5th grade discussed the risk to global communications, national security and consumer convenience posed by the growing field of manmade debris in Earth orbit, 3rd grade explored the nature of the atmosphere and how instruments and data help us to understand the natural world and 6th, 7th and 8th grade students explored the importance of design and experimentation-even failure- to inventing tools such as aircraft.



Tracey Tomme, VP of Education for the Cosmosphere Science Education Center and Space Museum demonstrates the fine points of engineering design to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students before they construct their own gliders.


Balko Principal Tammie Heathman put it this way: “Sometimes for a student to understand their own gifts, or even know what interests them most, they have to use their hands to make the lesson become real. STEAM+ programs make the theoretical more concrete to students. It is likely that the experiences they had today will lead some of these bright minds to invent better forms of energy or transportation, to find the solutions to natural problems that threaten human lives or our way of life. I look at the faces of these students; brilliant, eager, enthusiastic, and I know in my heart that some of them will one day walk on other planets.”