The most recent Sally Ride EarthKAM mission by NASA included some of Barrow’s BOLDest middle schoolers. 6th graders in Ashley Bailey’s class at Bear Creek Middle School were among the students from only 910 schools worldwide who participated in EarthKAM Mission ISS15_01.

Our Bear Creek students, registered for the mission, and then once approved, logged into the NASA Missions Operations Center (MOC).  In the MOC, students were able to see the International Space Station’s orbital paths during the upcoming mission, and select coordinates of specific locations directly below the ISS flight path.  Then, during those specific orbits, the EarthKAM Payload onboard the space station captured extremely High definition photos of the exact locations requested by the 6th graders from Bear Creek.

Once those photos were processed, the students logged back into the Mission Center to view and analyze their images shot from the ISS EarthKAM camera.

Apart from being an excellent use of school-owned and BYOT devices, and an off-the-charts wow factor, this activity directly integrated the following 6th grade level learning targets and standards from science, math, and social studies.

  1. Earth Science standard S6E2 on the effects of the  relative positions of the earth, moon, and sun.
  2. Earth Science standard S6E3 relating various atmospheric conditions to the water cycle
  3. Rational Exploration standard MCC6.NS6e for coordinate planes.
  4. Geographic Understanding standards SS6G1 and SS6G3 for Latin America
  5. Geographic Understanding standards SS5G12 and SS6G13 for Australia
  6. Map and globe skills related to latitude and longitude

During the image analysis process, the students identified the types of clouds, if any, in their pictures, used them to make weather and climate predications, and then compared their ideas against the actual weather condition reports for those southern hemisphere locations at the time the image was created.


For a more scientific explanation of how the Sally Ride EarthKAM missions and equipment work, take a look at the interview below with Brion Au, the Sally Ride EarthKAM payload Developer.