Over the moon about fostering hope

Indiana Area School District  |  Posted on

A collage of #IASDHopeMoonshot moments from the Indiana Area School District intermediate schools

The Readiness Institute at Penn State is embarking on a mission to help foster hope among people around the world, and the Indiana Area School District (IASD) was an early contributor to the project. Under the direction of elementary teachers, Elizabeth Woods and David Sheeran, local students, educators and community members were invited to share messages of hope – for free – that will be included aboard an upcoming mission to the moon.

Ms. Woods is member of the PA STEM Coalition and learned about the Hope Moonshot project in an email sent on behalf of Judd Pittman, special consultant to the secretary of education on STEM, and the Pennsylvania State-wide STEM Ecosystem (PSSE) Working Group. In the email, details regarding the Hope Moonshot project were explained. “As soon as I read about the project,” said Woods, “I knew that this was an educational opportunity of a lifetime that must be shared with as many students as possible!”

She began by sharing the idea with Mr. Sheeran, the fourth/fifth grade STEAM teacher, and they agreed to partner on the project at Eisenhower Elementary School and Horace Mann Elementary School. “When Elizabeth told me about this project, I was immediately excited and determined to make it happen in IASD. First of all, the prospect of sending something to the moon that will inspire future travelers was amazing. But on top of that, my fifth grade STEAM classes had just finished a unit on flight and the fourth graders had just been introduced to robotics and coding. What better way to see those concepts in action and highlight STEM careers than to participate in a robotic space flight!”

By the next day, they decided to try to expand the scope of the project and see if they could take it district-wide. They pitched the idea to the district’s Director of Education Robert Heinrich, who gave the green light for the mission. On very short notice and with a quick deadline, they officially launched #IASDHopeMoonshot and soon had responses from all round the district.

The hopes were saved on an SD card and will be placed in a storage capsule that will be sent to the moon’s surface by Astrobotic Technologies, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based space robotics company. Participants will have an opportunity to receive mission updates, view images, and attend a virtual launch party in the second half of 2021. Sheeran noted that the team at Astrobotic was very gracious in sharing their time and expertise. “We hope to build further on this relationship as the Peregrine Lunar Lander project moves onward and upward.” And that, of course, is just one of the many “hopes” captured by this collaborative project! The rest of them will be headed to the moon!