Beyond the Chalkboard is a free online curriculum for after-school teachers. The curriculum provides fun and engaging science, literacy, culture, art, health, math, and engineering activities for after-school learning, in ways that support what kids learn during the school day. The curriculum promotes critical 21st century skills like problem solving, communicating, and working collaboratively with peers.
The original Beyond the Chalkboard was the first free, online curriculum for after-school teachers. It is currently used by thousands of educators in all 50 states in the U.S. and over 100 countries around the world. In 2009, Beyond the Chalkboard was awarded the MetLife Foundation and Association of Children's Museums Promising Practice Award; and in 2012 the site was named “Best of the Web, Education Website” by Museums and the Web.
“Beyond the Chalkboard is a critical tool for after-school teachers,” said Tim Porter, creator of the Beyond the Chalkboard curriculum. “After-schools are an important part of so many children’s lives, and these programs work very hard to help children learn and develop. A free resource like Beyond the Chalkboard can help programs provide the highest quality educational experiences to their children. Now that we can include these exciting astronomy-focused activities and links to NASA resources, the sky is the limit.”
Boston Children’s Museum received a grant from NASA to develop the new earth and space science activities included in Beyond the Chalkboard. The focus of this NASA collaboration was on connecting informal educators and their students to current NASA projects and resources, and to create activities that would inspire both children and their teachers to engage in science learning in their after-school programs. The broad Beyond the Chalkboard audience is a platform for the dissemination of NASA resources. Each new activity created through this project was developed by a Museum Educator, tested in the Museum with visiting families, pilot-tested by after-school teachers with their students, and then added to the new Beyond the Chalkboard curriculum.
“NASA believes that informal education is one critical part of our work, and organizations like those we chose to award grants through our Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums, and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities, play an important role in infusing cutting-edge NASA research and development activities into curriculum development and implementation, teacher preparation and professional development, effective teaching, out-of-school activities and educational technology," said Dr. Beverly Girten, NASA Office of Education, Director, Institutional Engagement.
Experts from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory consulted with the Museum on the development of the new activities and links to NASA science, technology, imagery, and educational materials. “These engaging NASA-inspired activities are sure to spur young people’s imagination and creativity,” said Mary Dussault, Program Manager in the Science Education Department at SAO. “It was a pleasure to work with Boston Children’s Museum staff as they applied their innovative approach to learning to the development of these resources for after school educators.” Beyond the Chalkboard fills a need that brings museum-style informal education into after-school programs. It connects to the most exciting and pioneering NASA projects and science in a format that is accessible for any educator.
For additional information visit http://www.beyondthechalkboard.org/