South Orangetown Central School District

Faculty group photo for Mission Space

Although its original February 13 launch date was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions, Mission Space lifted off yesterday at Tappan Zee High School without a hitch!

“This is our first school-wide, full-day interdisciplinary event. The goal is to promote collaboration among colleagues in all subject areas to create an interconnected learning experience for our students,” explained Assistant Principal Paul Frisch. “In addition to lessons throughout the building revolving around the theme of space, we also have a few special things planned, including hands-on robotics and virtual reality demonstrations.”

At the start of each period, short recordings of iconic moments in the history of U.S. space flight played over the public address system. In individual classrooms, regardless of content area, space-themed lessons were the order of the day. There were celestial coding challenges and body painting, student presentations which debunked space-related conspiracy theories, Space Race-themed document-based question practice, aerodynamic rocket construction and testing activities, a virtual reality tour of the International Space Station, a Desmos challenge that included ellipses, parametric equations and Euler’s Method inspired by NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson’s contributions to the country’s crewed space program.

Social Studies teacher Matthew Robertson used Mission Space as an opportunity to make connections between the tenth-grade World War I unit and Moon exploration. Fun fact: South lunar polar craters are named for famous polar explorers on Earth. Robertson’s students discussed the 1915 Shackleton Trans-Antarctica Expedition and discovered that the Shackleton crater is a candidate for the NASA Artemis program’s future Moon landing site.

“Interdisciplinary connections lie at the heart of a well-rounded education,” Robertson noted. “It is essential that students see relationships across disciplines and appreciate multiple perspectives through which historical events, such as the Space Race and the Apollo 11 Mission, can be studied.”