Columbus third-grade teacher Anny Vanegas

PBS and NASA Program in Spotlight at Columbus

Written By: City School District of New Rochelle

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Anny Vanegas, a third grade teacher at Columbus Elementary, co-presented a webinar Monday on using digital media in the classroom. It was part of an initiative called Bringing the Universe into America’s Classrooms, a collaborative project between PBS affiliate WGBH and NASA. The program launched in 2015 when NASA awarded WGBH nearly $10 million to develop digital media tools and resources that could be used in STEM education. Vanegas began working with the program as a teacher advisor in 2016. She is one of about 50 educators in that role across the country.

“WGBH created science curricula – lesson plans and supplementary pieces – in collaboration with the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning at Oregon State University,” said Vanegas. “Depending on the grade, advisors received lessons on specific topics to review, provide feedback and implement in the classroom.”

That input helped develop media-rich digital learning resources to increase student engagement by putting science phenomena and practices on display in the classroom. Vanegas, with co-presenter Nancy Gifford from Monomoy Schools in Chatham, Massachusetts, presented a webinar entitled The Use of Digital Media in the Classroom, which provided an overview of why and how they do just that. 

“I call digital media the great equalizer,” said Vanegas. “It creates an access point for students with disabilities, English Language Learners, general education students – all types of learners – and gives them opportunities to explore things they might not have the chance to experience on their own.”

Because the program is funded by NASA and produced by a PBS affiliate, the available resources feature lesson plans, videos, data visualizations, interactive tools and activities and more, all from a trove of highly credible (and incredible) source materials. And, it’s all free!

The materials can be explored at the program website. Vanegas’ webinar, which was viewed live by educators from Maine to California, is also available online by following this link: The Use of Digital Media in the Classroom.