Harvard and BPS help students expand their horizons far beyond city limits

July 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm
Larrell Newton (left) and Marta Bonilla from the Jackson/Mann School look over a list of research questions written by students under the guidance of Professor Alyssa Goodman. Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Yeilanise Noriega, a sixth-grader at Jackson/Mann K-8 School, recently experienced a course that changed her world perspective exponentially — so much so that she is now convinced life exists on other planets.

“I didn’t think so before, but I do now believe there is life elsewhere,” she said. “There are billions and billions of planets and stars out there, and we can’t be the only planet that has life.”

Noriega’s change of heart is a result of a pioneer program between Harvard and Boston Public Schools through the WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program (WWTA), a team of astronomers and educators at Harvard University. Noriega said that the program changed her perspective on science, which she used to think was “boring” — but not anymore.

“Now, each day, I just want to learn more,” she said. “We need to have more people studying science. The more people are interested in science, the better our chances of learning more and making more discoveries.”

Noriega was just one of 40 sixth- and seventh-grade students who participated in the pilot program at Jackson/Mann. The program, which is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, helped students explore the WorldWide Telescope, a free, open-source “universe information system” that provides 3-D data and views of the universe from thousands of different sources.

Read the full article in the Harvard Gazette.