Paul M. Helfrich

Explore the Cutting Edge of Science, Art & Spirit

Science By Satellite

The Franklin Institute produced three distance learning programs for teacher professional development that were broadcast in 1993-1994 to four participating science museums at local Unisys telepresence sites:

  • The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia)
  • Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Atlanta)
  • Miami Museum of Science (Miami)
  • Science Museum of Minnesota (St. Paul)

They featured inquiry-based learning kits designed to provide hands-on experience with the topic of energy:

  • Thinking About Energy
  • Energy in Our Universe: Let There Be Light
  • Investigating Energy: Gone With The Wind

This video clip is from the first show hosted at the Unisys Corporate Headquarters in Blue Bell, PA.

Thinking About Energy

The first broadcast provided a framework for understanding energy: the identification of energy sources, energy receiver, and evidence of energy transfer. Through an inquiry-based approach, participants constructed electrochemical batteries from pennies as well as rubberband-powered racers using plastic soda bottles.

Let There Be Light

The sun, the ultimate source of energy for life on this planet, was the focus of the second broadcast. Teachers participated in activities that clearly differentiated the many different forms of energy that find their origins in the sun: ultraviolet energy, visible light, and infrared energy. Activities range from investigating global climate change with cups and dirt to building telescopes and spectroscopes for investigating visible light.

Gone With The Wind

Inquiry-based learning continued to be the focus as teachers developed new ideas about wind energy to take back to the classroom. As they built windmills, teachers covered topics like the origins of wind, what work it can do, and how wind can be a useful alternative energy source in the near future.


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I am currently teaching Grade 5 at the Westside Waldorf School in Pacific Palisades, CA for the 2016-2017 academic year.

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