Teachers Plan First Utah Space Week for Schools

April 20, 2001

During the first two weeks in May, students attending 26 schools across northern Utah will be going

While they won't actually leave terra firma, they will be going into the subject of space in most of their school classes and activities.

It's all part of a unique program called Utah Space Week, being started this year by a group of innovative Utah teachers with the support of NASA. Coordinator Donna Trease, a sixth grade science teacher at Oak Hills School in Bountiful, explains:

"Utah teachers are very creative people," Trease said, "and we came up with this program as the perfect antidote to the doldrums that students often find themselves in late in the school year. This Spring, the students of North Utah won't have time to daydream about being outside in the nice weather, they will be too busy doing challenging and fun activities right inside their schools.

"Not only do our teachers have fun, space-related activities on tap," Trease said, "but NASA will be coming right into our schools to share the excitement of the American space program with our students."

The space agency, which actively promotes science and math education, has made Utah Space Week an official part of the US space program. NASA will provide people to do assemblies and other activities in every participating school in the Davis, Weber, Ogden, Box Elder, Cache and Logan schools systems.

Utah Space Week will officially start May 1 with a kickoff program at 7:00 PM at Weber State's Browning Center. Astronaut and former Senator Jake Garn will head the program there, along with Lt. Gov. Oleen Walker. The next night, a similar kickoff event will be held at in Bountiful High School. Students and parents from all 26 participating schools can attend either event.

During the week of May 1 (and the following week for Box Elder, Cache and Logan schools), students will find spacey activities like rocket building planned for their science classes. Engineers from Lockheed Martin and members of the Utah Rocket Club will teach Students rocketry. Utah State University Research Foundation's Space Dynamics Lab will teach students the use of GPS satellite systems. But this is not just about science, the students will also explore space in their art, English and music classes plus other areas of the curriculum.

"This will be a real spark plug to get the students' creative juices flowing," said Trease. "I can picture schools decorated with space themes, space food in the cafeterias, and space costume days. Utah Space Week can be whatever the teachers, students and parents want it to be. And every school with be different."

In addition to NASA, Utah Space Week is being supported by Sen. Bob Bennett, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, the Rocky Mountain NASA Space Grant Consortium, Utah State University, the Space Dynamics Laboratory, the Utah Rocket Club and Weber State University's Center for Science and Math Education and Utah State Universities ComUSU.

"This Space Week in the north is just a beginning," Donna Trease said. "Next year we hope that schools across Utah will join in."