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Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster - Texas History with a World Wide Twist

I have seen a lot in my near 6 decades on this great ball we call Earth, but there are only a few "Where were you when" moments that I remember. Of course, one of the big ones Alan Jackson sings of, but 9/11 was only one of them. I don't mean the personal tragedies, although each one is personal to someone, but those that make an impact on our societal, and often global, consciousness. 

The first one that I vividly remember was that "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It was the first time I was allowed to stay up late. I remember delivering the paper the morning that we learned "The King" was dead - still, they say he is in residence at Graceland. Challenger. I was in Belgium then. The Wall fell - okay, it was shredded and torn apart and we all celebrated! The crash of the KC-135 at Dyess in 1989; I was part of the recovery team. Columbine and Sandy Hook. 

And then, Columbia

How do you effectively teach about such a tragedy as a space shuttle disintegrating during re-entry, and the tragedy that the families of the astronauts faced, along with everyone else who was watching, to 4th and 5th grade students? Without causing angst? And still showing compassion AND meeting learning standards? Thanks to E. A. "Beth" Hammett of The Educator Helper, I now feel that I am ready to attempt to do so with my 9 year old granddaughter.

Beth has created a fantastic resource, "Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster", which she has available on Amped Up Learning, as well as on TpT. The resource is set in two parts, a printable PDF and a PowerPoint presentation. The PDF is also a coloring book for our kinesthetic learners. Additionally, it is guided notes, with ample space for writing. The PowerPoint is also in black and white and repeats the PDF, but this works well to allow for conversion to Google Slides and use in Google Classroom (or other platforms) for remote/distance learning.

The resource is laid out in two parts, with the first part having all of the information in it. It discusses the mission, the cause of the accident, provides biographical information on each of the crew members, and has characteristics of graphic novels.

Part two has the same graphics, but without the information. This is excellent because if you give students the first half and work whole class on that, you can come back and use the second half as either a review or assessment. Beth has it created as a project, which also works wonderfully! If there were two things I would add, it would be explanations of motion and trajectory, and about the delays of radio transmissions during space flight and re-entry. These explanations would explain the graphic of the Columbia's breakup over California with the debris fields ending up in Texas, as well as the first debris field making land fall before the final transmission reached NASA.

Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster available on Amped Up Learning and Teachers Pay Teachers. Cost: $5.00 (USD)












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