HEMANT MISHRA, Math Teacher and Coach, Mansion Knight Robotic Club,

Strawberry Mansion High School, 3133, Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19121


"Reach for the Stars & Library"


Project Abstract

“Reach for the Stars and Library” is a program that will reach more than 650 students in grades K-9 to K-12 at Strawberry Mansion High School* and their families. This program will train teachers, provide opportunities for student experimentation and develop reading habits, involve participation by parents and utilize partnerships with community experts.


Through “Reach for the Stars and library” teachers and community partners will be trained to fully utilize the existing optical telescope and various latest technology books that was purchased with grant funding and housed at Strawberry Mansion High School. Once this training has been established students and parents will be invited to participate in learning workshops every Saturday each week. Local astronomers and teachers will conduct workshops. These sessions will provide hands on opportunities for students, along with their parents, to explore the stars and planets of our solar system. Reach for the Stars will also provide opportunities for our students to experience firsthand, various careers in space science through visits to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, as well as the planetarium at various State University. There will be various trips organized in order to expose the students and parents about the possible careers and scope of education in future.


The natural progression of” Reach for the Stars and library” will include the formation of an astronomy and book club with members of all ages. This organized, student driven, teacher guided instruction will provide ongoing, extended hours learning opportunities to all grade levels and will be able to utilize their leisure time that is mostly wasted in non-constructive activities.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------* Strawberry Mansion High School, located in Philadelphia County is designated as a 100% rural county. 100% percent of students at Strawberry Mansion High School receive free breakfast and lunch.                                                                                                                                                   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Goals and Objectives

The primary goal of” Reach for the Stars and Library” is to help to prepare students to live and work in a world that is increasingly scientific and technical in nature. “Reach for the Stars and Library” will provide training and support for teachers as well as increased opportunities for inquiry based science instruction. The use of speakers, field trips, and hands on activities will provide students with the opportunity to aggressively explore the link between space science and technology.


“Reach for the Stars and Library” students' activities will address, at the appropriate grade levels, the School District of Philadelphia Instructional Goals and Objectives, National Education Goals, National Science Education Standards and the International Society for Technology in Education Standards. Teachers will be provided with resources to supplement their current curriculum through NASA Facility offerings and trainings provided by the staff at National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Internet based resources will be identified, compiled and presented to staff by Project RIGHT2 (Reaching Instructional Goals with Hi-Tech Tools) coordinator.

Library will be equipped with informative and curriculum books along with updated computer laboratory so that each user can acquire their needs. Teachers will be provided all guidance and resources to help out the students and parents, also keep the track with the curriculum of the students.


“Reach for the Stars and Library” will involve parents and community members as partners in the education process by utilizing their skills and knowledge to support the development of a junior astronomers club. Community leaders have committed to provide leadership and support in this exciting endeavor to help our students "Reach for the Stars and Library" both literally and figuratively. 


Methods to Implement Project

In the fall of 2008, National Radio Astronomy Observatory staff will provide teachers, parents and community partners with multi-faceted training. The first phase of staff development will prepare participants to fully utilize the existing optical telescope at Strawberry Mansion High School. Secondly, STARLAB training will be the focus of attention so that our students can utilize the STARLAB during school hours. In this way, we can ensure that all students will have the opportunity to explore the vast expanse of our universe in an exciting and meaningful manner. Finally, Hands-On Universe training will be provided to interested teachers throughout our county. Software necessary to support trained teachers will be purchased as part of this project.


In the library, students will be able to get books of almost every aspect and each field of their needs. The teachers and the librarians will provide convenience and various types of guidance in choosing the books and to acquire the books of everyone’s interest. Also a program will be conducted periodical develop the interest in students and parents. Various types of movies and documentaries will be showed to them so that they can broaden their views to develop their interest to achieve future goals.


Mrs. Diane Holliday and Ms. Belinda Kent, prominent members of the community who have volunteered their time and expertise to support this project, have both agreed to come into the classroom and provide astronomy related, hands-on activities. Mrs. Lynn Davis White and Ms. Whytt have agreed to assist with the astronomy club and provide expertise to enhance this project. Mrs. Maria Milkowski Math/science/technology instructor and Project RIGHT2 coordinator will provide technical support and assistance to all staff in utilizing the STARLAB, telescope, and computer software. Mr. Piltz will also serve as the teacher supervisor for the astronomy club.


A star party will be held as a kick-off activity to encourage participation in the astronomy club. Students and their families will participate in an evening of star related activities and have the opportunity to hear knowledgeable guest speakers. Learning stations including the STARLAB and the optical telescope will be staffed and available for exploration.


Project Evaluation

Evaluation of Reach for the Stars success will be tri-fold.

The first component of this evaluation will be the completion of planned professional development activities. Once trained, teachers will be able to utilize the STARLAB, Hands on Universe Curriculum, and telescope. Each teacher who participates in this project will document classroom activities utilizing the digital camera, video camera or media coverage. This documentation will be compiled and presented at the WVTEAMS conference and at state level science conferences.


The second part of this evaluation will be to measure the extent of parental involvement in this project. Currently there are no academic clubs or activities meeting after school hours. Through this project we will increase parental involvement and provided extended learning opportunities for students. The facilitator will log participation in after school activities by students, parents and community partners.


The third aspect of evaluation will occur by an examination of standardized test scores of 9th -12th grade students for the 2008-2009 school year. A successful project will show an increase in science test scores for students involved in this program.


Project Time Line

Please note:  Julie's timeline was presented in a table format. We are presenting the same information here in a slightly different format for simplicity of coding.


September 2008                 Training for teachers and community partners

October 2008                     Star Party Astronomy Club Kick-off

November 2008                  Field trip to Frostburg Planetarium

December 2008                  Astronomy club meeting and activities

January 2009                      Astronomy club meeting and activities

February 2009                    Astronomy club meeting and activities

March 2009                        Astronomy club meeting and activities

WV TEAMS presentation

April 2009                           Field trip to Green Bank NRAO

May 2009                            Astronomy club meeting and activities

Aug/Sept 2009                    Evaluate test scores and other data

Year long activities will include: 

             Use of Hands-On Universe software by trained teachers

             Documentation of Reach for the Stars Activities

             Media coverage of classroom and school wide activities

             Presentations to Grant County Board of Education by students.






Field Trip to Frostburg Planetarium        9 buses @ $.50 per mile (140 miles)                     $630.00


                                                                9 drivers @ $100 per day per driver                       $900.00


Field Trip to Green Bank National

Radio Astronomy Observatory                9 buses @ $.50 per mile (140 miles)                         $630



                                                                9 drivers @ $100 per day per driver                       $900.00


Hands On Universe Software                  8 teachers @ $200.00 per trained teacher         $1,600.00



Astronomy Star Guide Books                   30 books @ $15.00                                                $450.00


Supplies for Star Party activities             Miscellaneous items to conduct a

     variety of hands -on experiments                          $500.00



Total Requested Budget:                                                                                                   $5,610.00





In- Kind Support



Professional development

provided by NRAO staff                           3 days of training @ $800.00 per day                $2,400.00




STARLAB Rental                                       1 week @ $300.00 per week                                 $300.00




Community partner volunteers                Approx 75 hours @ $20.00 per hour                  $1,500.00



Travel/Accommodation Expenses

for presentation of Reach for the

Stars at Conferences                                 Approx 5 days @ $150.00 per day                             $750.00


Total In-Kind Support                                                                                                                                                $4,950.00






Project Coordinators


Background Information


Mrs. Maria Milkowski, Math/Science/Technology Instructor

Project RIGHT2 coordinator

M.S. Secondary Education Mathematics /St. Joseph University of Pennsylvania

County Technology & Curriculum Team Member

Astronomy enthusiast


Mrs. Diane Holiday, Physician, Astronomer and Community Partner

Graduate of University of Cincinnati

Undergraduate of Ohio State

Lifelong Interest in Astronomy

Started designing his own telescope mirrors at age 9

Taught Astronomy lessons to 4th and 5th grade students in Loudin County, VA (5 years)


Mrs. Belinda Kent, Community Partner and Astronomer

Professor of Physics and Mathematics / Davis & Elkins College 1955-1989

Planetarium Director / Davis & Elkins College 1973-1989

Taught Introduction to Astronomy / Davis & Elkins College 1965-1986

Taught Introduction to Astronomy / Alderson Broaddus (2 summers)



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