The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) took its first foray into deeper provincial educational partnerships when it signed a memorandum of understanding with Nova Scotia education officials, a CSA representative says. While the agency currently has lesson plans and other educational items geared to curricula in provinces across the country, the CSA is targeting deeper involvement with certain areas.
The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) along with the Honourable Ramona Jennex, Minister of Education for Nova Scotia, and Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk visited Southdale North-Woodside School last Friday to sign the memorandum of understanding.
There is an agreement with one of the territories and another one with a province pending, says Marilyn Steinberg, the manager of the agency’s space learning program. Nova Scotia just happened to come up first.
“Each of the provinces each have their own needs and while we provide all these services across the country, we work with different ministries of education,” she says. “They indicated they would like to work with us collaboratively to fill some gaps in their curriculum.”
Currently, the CSA has materials in 338 school boards across Canada servicing around 60,000 classrooms.
Most of these classrooms use material freely available on the Canadian Space Agency website, but the agency is planning to create more exclusively produced materials for the pending agreements.
The agency will spend around $8.1 million in learning this year, down slightly from $9.3 million in 2010, according to the CSA’s report on plans and priorities. This includes professional development for teachers, space learning materials for elementary and high-school students and “partnered initiatives” intended to give both students and teachers more opportunities to connect with scientists and people in technology.
Nova Scotia’s expanded curriculum will include a license agreement for unlimited access to CSA products for the next three years, as well as guaranteeing students training to be teachers get access to professional development about space exploration teaching. The agency previously signed a three-year agreement with Alberta, which expired in 2006. That curriculum focused on distance learning and technology in the classroom, Steinberg says. Another agreement is pending in that province now.
“We’re really happy to be working with Nova Scotia, and to bring some very interesting opportunities into the province and hopefully move forward in the rest of the country,” she adds.