Celebrate World Space Week — Oct. 4-10, 2010

This international event commemorates the beginning of the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957. World Space Week is the largest public space event in the world, with celebrations in more than 50 nations. Last year, President Obama joined the celebration by hosting a Star Party at the White House that included invitations to students from NASA Explorer Schools in the Washington, D.C. area.

Join educators and space enthusiasts around the world to celebrate World Space Week, Oct. 4-10, 2010. During World Space Week, teachers are encouraged to use space-themed activities.

To learn more about World Space Week, to find related educational materials and to search for events in your area, visit http://www.worldspaceweek.org/.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus home page.

DIME and WING Student Competitions

Downward view in a NASA drop tower.Dropping In a Microgravity Environment, or DIME, is a competition for high school student teams. WING — “What If No Gravity?” — is the competition for student teams in sixth through ninth grades. Both competitions challenge student teams from the U.S. and U.S. territories to develop and prepare a microgravity experiment. Each team must have an adult supervisor.

Proposals are due Nov. 1, 2010.

Winning teams will design and build the experiments that will be conducted in the 79-foot drop tower at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. When the experiment is dropped, it experiences weightlessness, or microgravity, for 2.2 seconds.

The top four DIME teams will receive an all-expenses-paid trip in March to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA personnel and tour Glenn’s facilities. All DIME participants visiting NASA must be U.S. citizens.

Four additional DIME teams and up to 30 WING teams will be selected to build their experiments and ship them to Glenn to be drop-tested by NASA. These experiments and the resulting data will be returned to the teams so they can prepare reports about their findings.

For more information about entering NASA’s DIME and WING student team
competitions, visit http://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/DIME.html

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus home page.

NASA Now: Flight Testing

NASA Now logo
As in the early days of the manned space program, much of NASA’s flight testing still is conducted in the high desert of California, at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base. The desert’s wide open spaces, good weather and long, flat runway at Dryden make it NASA’s premier location for conducting atmospheric flight research and operations, as well as a backup landing spot for the space shuttle.

This NASA Now event, available on the NES Virtual campus beginning Sept. 29, 2010, features Albion Bowers, project manager of the Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project at Dryden. Bowers presents the latest information about some of NASA’s current flight test projects. 

For more information about current NASA flight research projects, visit https://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/research/index.html.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus home page.

ISS EarthKAM Fall 2010 Mission

Middle school educators are invited to join NASA for the International Space Station EarthKAM Fall 2010 Mission from Oct. 12-15, 2010. Find out more about this exciting opportunity that allows students to take pictures of Earth from a digital camera aboard the International Space Station.
ISS EarthKAM is a NASA-sponsored project that provides stunning, high-quality photographs of Earth taken from the space shuttle and the space station. Since 1996, ISS EarthKAM students have taken thousands of photographs of Earth by using the World Wide Web to direct a digital camera on select spaceflights and, currently, on the International Space Station.
For more information about the project and to register for the upcoming mission, visit the ISS EarthKAM home page www.EarthKAM.ucsd.edu
If you have questions about the EarthKAM project, e-mail ek-help@earthkam.ucsd.edu

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus home page.


The NASA Now program series highlights a current NASA mission,area of research, or career within the agency.

In this, our first program of the 2010-2011 school year, introduce your science or technology classes toone of the many complex problems associated with living and working on the moonor another planetary body. In this NASA Now episode, students get a glimpse at theresearch conducted at NASA’s Lunar SLOPE facility, where scientists andengineers design, build and test wheels for the next generation rover vehicle. Studentssee how the SLOPE scientists and engineers test their prototype wheels on anartificial lunar surface developed especially for this project. Students will geta feel for how the unique properties of the lunar soil shape the design of thewheels.

The event is available atthe NES Virtual Campus’s NASA Now page beginning Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010.

Visit the NASA Explorer Schools home page and click on NASA Now!

Related competitions: 

     Earth Science Week 2010 Photography Contest — Open to All Ages. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 15. 2010.
     Microgravity Competition — High School. Deadline for proposals is Nov 1. 2010.

By the Light of the Super Silvery Moon

For the first time in almost 20 years, northern autumn is beginning on the night of a full moon. The coincidence sets the stage for a “Super Harvest Moon” and a must-see sky show to mark the change of seasons.

The action begins at sunset on Sept 22nd, the last day of northern summer. As the sun sinks in the west, bringing the season to a close, the full Harvest Moon will rise in the east, heralding the start of fall. The two sources of light will mix together to create a kind of 360-degree, summer-autumn twilight glow that is only seen on rare occasions.

Keep an eye on the moon as it creeps above the eastern skyline. The golden orb may appear strangely inflated. This is the moon illusion at work. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, a low-hanging moon appears much wider than it really is. A Harvest Moon inflated by the moon illusion is simply gorgeous. The view improves as the night wears on.

The Harvest Moon gets its name from agriculture. In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset. It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market. The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox became “the Harvest Moon,” and it was always a welcome sight.

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

Earth Science Week Contests for 2010

If you have any questions about any of the following contests, e-mail the Earth Science Week staff at info@earthsciweek.org.

Earth Science Week 2010 Photography Contest — Open to All Ages

The American Geological Institute is sponsoring a photography contest to celebrate Earth Science Week 2010. Photographs should focus on the topic “We Depend on Energy.” The contest is open to any resident of the United States. Participants should submit a picture that best represents the ways their community uses energy. Entries may be submitted electronically or by mail. Only one entry will be accepted per person. The deadline for submitting photos is Oct. 15, 2010.


Earth Science Week 2010 Visual Arts Contest — Open to Students in Grades K-5

The American Geological Institute is sponsoring a visual arts contest to celebrate Earth Science Week 2010. Artwork should focus on the topic “Energy on Earth.” The contest is open to students in grades K-5 who are residents of the United States. Participants should submit an original two-dimensional visual arts project that shows energy’s place in the way our planet works. Entries must be submitted by mail. The deadline for submitting entries is Oct. 15, 2010.


Earth Science Week 2010 Essay Contest — Open to Students in Grades 6-9

The American Geological Institute is sponsoring an essay contest to celebrate Earth Science Week 2010. Essays should focus on the theme “How Energy Powers the Planet.” The contest is open to students in grades 6-9 who are residents of the United States. Participants should submit an original essay no more than 300 words in length, typed, and formatted to fit on one page. Entries may be submitted electronically or by mail. The deadline for submitting entries is Oct. 15, 2010.


NASA's Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge

NASA is inviting students in grades 5-8 to participate in the 2nd Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge. The challenge uses real-world scenarios that meet science and mathematics content standards. Students can participate in a formal, informal or home-school setting.

Teams of up to six students will design a water recycling system for the unique environment of the moon. Teams will then test their system on a simulated wastewater stream. Proposals and results are due Feb. 28, 2011.

The winning teams will be announced in May 2011. The top three teams will receive awards. The first place team will receive an expense-paid trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the winning team’s visit to Kennedy, students will gain firsthand knowledge about NASA’s missions, receive behind-the-scenes tours of NASA’s launch facilities, and learn about future aerospace and engineering careers.

For more information and contest rules, please visit http://wlmr.nasa.gov/.

Download a copy of the Design Challenge flyer.

Questions about the challenge should be directed to Jay Garland

September NES Professional Development Opportunities

NASA Explorer Schools provides full support for educators wanting additional information about using any of the growing selection of NASA education activities supported by the project. Each activity is designed to excite and inspire students in grades 4-12 by involving them in authentic NASA problems often using NASA data.

The project is pleased to offer one-hour electronic professional development sessions throughout the year for each education activity supported by the project. These highly informative sessions are delivered through NES partner organizations, National Science Teachers Association and Georgia Tech. All NES electronic professional development are free of charge.

Participation in a session requires a computer connected to the Internet. For audio, the computer must have either working speakers or earphones; a headset with microphone connected to the computer; or simultaneous access to a telephone capable of calling a toll-free telephone number.

Each interactive session provides an overview of all support materials in each product module. In addition to introducing and explaining the featured classroom lesson, presenters will review the lesson’s essential question, subjects and topics covered, instructional objective, a connection to NASA and extension activities that may be done by students. Other classroom support resources also will be reviewed.

Participants may ask questions of the presenter through a chat window or on the telephone or headset, if available.

Shortly after signing up for a professional development session, the participant will receive confirmation e-mail with information about joining the online session.

Registered NES educators may sign up for as many electronic professional development opportunities as they would like to attend. However, space is limited in each session.

If, after signing up for a session, you find you cannot attend the session you signed up for, please send e-mail to NASA-Explorer-Schools@mail.nasa.gov.  Include your name and the session you had signed up for. Then, return to this site, select a new session, and sign up for it.

Sessions will be repeated several times throughout the school year, so if you can’t participate in a session when it’s offered, you will have other opportunities to sign up for that session.

NOTE: All times shown are EASTERNtimes.

Module Title



Time (ET)

Lunar Nautics: Designing a Mission to Live and Work on the Moon



6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Rockets Educator Guide: High-power Paper Rockets



9:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Earth Climate Course: Modeling Hot and Cold Planets



6:30 – 7: 30 p.m.

Smart Skies: Line up with Math



9:00 – 10:00 p.m.

MY NASA DATA: Solar Cell Energy Availability



6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Messenger: Cooling with Sunshades



6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

GENESIS: Exploring Data-A First Look



6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration



9:00 – 10:00 p.m.

For information about each product module, visit the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website.

Sign-up for NES Project Orientation Sessions

On Sept. 7, 2010, an e-mail was sent to all registered NASA Explorer Schools participants requesting they sign up for a project orientation session. One-hour orientation sessions begin on Sept. 15. The sessions will provide an overview of the NES Virtual Campus website, professional development opportunities for educators, NASA Now student broadcasts, and recognition opportunities and research experiences for educators, students and schools. 

Participation in an orientation session requires a computer connected to the Internet and simultaneous access to a telephone capable of calling a toll-free number. 

If you registered to participate in the NES project and didn’t receive an e-mail about the orientation sessions, check your junk mail folder and be sure to add NASA-Explorer-Schools@mail.nasa.gov to your e-mail safe senders list.

If you did not receive the NES e-mail, please send a follow-up e-mail to NASA-Explorer-Schools@mail.nasa.gov.