After months of studying aerospace principles, 55 4-H members from Evangeline Elementary School in Evangeline, Louisiana, got the chance to see firsthand how NASA scientists apply those lessons to space travel.
On a field trip to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, they saw the huge Saturn rocket, viewed a working mock-up of the International Space Station, experienced a virtual reality space flight simulator, went inside the space shuttle and learned how astronauts live in the spacecraft.
In the 2017-18 school year, Acadia Parish 4-H agents Kayla Segura and Megan Sarver participated in the aerospace lesson study, which dovetailed with curricula taught in the school system.
“Watching our students’ faces light up as they walked into NASA was a career highlight,” said Segura.
Amber Doucet, a fifth-grade teacher at Evangeline Elementary, said the lesson study covered by Sarver and Segura brought science to life for her students.
“They loved the activities the 4-H agents were presenting,” Doucet said.
The lessons, along with the NASA trip, broadened the students’ views, “so now they see all these other opportunities,” Doucet said.
“4-H taught me about gravity and life skills and the possibilities that the future holds,” said student Kensley Ringuet.
Three years ago, Louisiana was selected as one of four states to pilot lesson study as an avenue for professional development. Lesson study is a teaching improvement process where a small group of 4-H agents collaborates on developing learning goals, planning lessons, reviewing how these lessons worked, improving lesson delivery and reporting on the results so that others may benefit.
In 2018, 62 agents presented lesson studies on 10 different topics, a significant growth from 2016, when seven agents presented on healthy living lessons. As a result of the increase, lesson study has become a sought-out resource for 4-H professionals. Louisiana 4-H Youth Development was awarded over $110,000 as part of a Common Measures Challenge grant funded by the Bechtel Foundation and administered by the National 4-H Council.
“The Louisiana 4-H Youth Development Program is one of the nation’s leaders in the field of lesson study,” said Janet Fox, 4-H department head. “I’m excited to receive this critical support for the lesson study initiative, which is having positive impact on our 4-H agents, volunteers and the youth who are participating in the lesson study groups.”
Bienville Parish 4-H agent Elizabeth Bryan has participated in lesson study since its inception in Louisiana. Bryan has participated as a lesson study facilitator and as a leadership team member. Through lesson study, Bryan has engaged her 4-H members in various topics, including nutrition, leadership, and social and emotional health and safety.
“Lesson study began as a professional development tool for agents to conduct meaningful educational experiences during 4-H Club meetings,” she said. “However, I feel that the lesson study process has become a network of agents working together with common goals. With most agents working solo in a parish, lesson study has been a widely accepted practice for agents to reduce stress, energize programs and provide impacts.”
St. Landry 4-H agent Lisa Benoit is entering her second year of lesson study and agrees about the value of lesson study.
“Participating in lesson study provided me the opportunity, through networking with co-workers, to develop and implement high-quality, research-based educational club meeting programs focused on bullying and character education,” Benoit said. “Through the use of the reflection tools, I was able to gather the youths’ knowledge gain and possible behavior changes.”
Students explore the “Journey to Mars” exhibit.
This article appears in the Louisiana 4-H 2019 Annual Report.
An Evangeline Elementary student dresses the part while visiting NASA.
Lesson study tripled in three years.
In 2016: 1,368 youth participants, 6 educators and 1 lesson study team
In 2017: 6,010 youth participants, 25 educators and 6 lesson study teams
In 2018: 17,500 youth participants, 62 educators and 10 lesson study teams