September 22, 2014

Students Explore The Universe Without Leaving School


Elementary students at Paramount School of Excellence, a charter school near Rural and Riverside Parkway, don’t have to leave the school grounds for science lessons about space and distant galaxies.  - Leigh DeNoon

Elementary students at Paramount School of Excellence, a charter school near Rural and Riverside Parkway, don’t have to leave the school grounds for science lessons about space and distant galaxies.

Leigh DeNoon

Open what appears to be an ordinary classroom door on the second floor of Paramount School of Excellence and you enter what feels like a new dimension.

Music sets the mood. A life-size space suit and glowing, spinning, large earth welcome you to the one-year-old Time and Space Discovery Center. School director Tommy Reddicks, who composed and performed the music, says experiential, hands-on learning is essential to connect kids to lessons in the classroom.

“When we get into talking about – theoretically we should know about time and space and proportion and scale and – it gets really tough for our kids to conceptualize everything and take us on blind faith. But in this space, in a real, almost Smithsonian experience, you get to see it in real life – either in a virtual world or right in front of you," Reddicks said. "Scale models of our solar system or what an astronaut might look like, and I think for the kids that takes learning to another level because it’s concrete, it’s in their hands, it’s immediately visualized.”

Second grade teacher Krista Bridenthal brought her class to the Time & Space Center to learn about magnetism.

“I just thought for a great way to get the kids excited about the topic we would do a connection between the earth as the largest magnet and the study of magnets and how a compass works. A little bit of an introduction to that,” Bridenthal said.


Each Paramount class is required to visit the Center at least four times a year.

“The engagement of the students is at an all time high when you can utilize this," Bridenthal said.
"I’ve been able to connect it when we’ve talked about the seasons and the movements of the planets.”

Funded by an Indiana Department of Education Innovation Fund grant, Time and Space Discovery Center is not solely for Paramount School of Excellence students. With ready-made lesson plans, school director Tommy Reddicks says teachers from all over can book a field trip.

“We’ve got a curricular team writing Indiana Academic Standards-based lessons for the room. They’re very scripted so any outside school, organization, classroom - they can pull down that lesson," Reddicks said. "They can come with their class to this space and they can actually teach the lesson to their kids as the leader of their class, which I think adds a lot of value. And then we’re there to facilitate the experience, ensure they have all the technology working right, ensure that they have all the materials for the lesson and it becomes just an extension of their own classroom.”

After her class, second grader Anye Winters said she thinks the Time and Space Center is neat and from her answer, you’ll know she was soaking up the experience.

“I learned about earth and we saw earth and we saw the sun and we saw mars. We saw Pluto," Winters said. "(And what’s at the center of the earth?) The core. It’s like a great big magnet.”

You can learn more about the Time & Space Discovery Center by visiting IndyTSDC.com

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