Camping Under the Stars
Jackson County Intermediate School District Makes Astronomy Accessible to Teachers and StudentsBy Brian Warkoczeski, May 2008
"More look up and admire the stars. A champion climbs a mountain and grabs one."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Students in Jackson County now have an easier time to view the stars and distant galaxies thanks to the efforts of Jackson County Intermediate School District (JCISD).
Last fall, JCISD welcomed the addition of a new Celestron 14-inch reflector telescope and CCD camera to Camp McGregor, which is also the location of the District's Math and Science Center.
The computer-driven telescope offers a world-class view of the sky and makes it easier for students to identify celestial objects. The equipment was acquired in part with federal funding obtained by former U.S. Representative Nick Smith and current U.S. Representative Joe Schwarz.
JCISD makes the Camp McGregor Observatory available to schools in the district for groups interested in day or night visits. Teachers can be trained on the telescope's use, so that they can bring their classes to the camp anytime to use the telescope and teach their students about astronomy.
Last August, JCISD offered a camp for middle and high school students from nearby counties, where students could use the new telescope and take field trips to the observatories at Albion College, University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. The summer camp was made possible by a grant from the Michigan Space Consortium and funding by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). Camp McGregor plans to establish an annual summer camp, where students can stay and do extended astronomy research.
Boosting Math & Science KnowledgeCamp McGregor is also the home of the Jackson County Intermediate School District's Math and Science Center, which provides leadership and assistance in mathematics and science education.
The Math and Science Center serves 12 K-12 districts, three charter districts, and several private schools. It is one of 33 centers in Michigan that have been charged with assisting schools in areas related to math and science.
Each school year, the Center offers several student activities and workshops. Some of the current programs available include a DNA Electrophoresis Workshop, a Dino Dig archaeological field study, and 5th Grade WaterFestival.
The Center also acts as a clearinghouse for best teaching practices and assists in professional development. With the assistance of teachers and administrators from numerous school districts, the Center has organized math and science curriculum projects, where participants work to ensure that school curriculums meet benchmarks established by the State of Michigan. Teachers can also get assistance with content development and class lesson development.
To paraphrase the initial quote by H. Jackson Brown, some admire the possibiliities, while others take action to achieve greatness. Through its continuing projects and top-notch facilities at Camp McGregor, JCISD is bringing the stars into focus and making math and science education a priority for Jackson-area students and teachers.
More About JCISDThe Jackson County Intermediate School District is an educational service agency chartered by the State of Michigan to work in collaboration with local public school districts and charter schools. Its mission is focused on improving student success in Jackson County. JCISD is a Member of Merit Network and utilizes Merit's high-speed services.
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