Johnston Middle School's Space Explorer's Club

student asking question during a NASA downlinkAs a result of student interest generated by a recent NASA downlink at Johnston Middle School, NASA Explorer Schools educator Lanena Berry reports the school has instituted a Space Explorer’s Club. So far this year, club members have researched the SPHERES satellites on the International Space Station. Students have been introduced to NASA’s website and participated in the NES module, Engineering Design Challenge: Spacecraft Structures (must be logged into the NES Virtual Campus website).

Space Explorer’s Club members now are working with students from Prairie View A&M University to send a weather balloon up 60,000 to 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface to take pictures and atmospheric readings.

The focus of this club is on the research and technology needed to explore space.

Read more about Johnston’s Space Explorer’s Club and link to a video about the downlink at the school in the Other NASA Activities I’ve Done forum in NEON (requires username and password).

International Space Station EarthKAM Winter 2011 Mission

Middle school educators are invited to join NASA for the International Space Station EarthKAM Winter 2011 Mission from Jan. 18-21, 2011. Find out more about this exciting opportunity that allows students to take pictures of Earth from a digital camera aboard the International Space Station.

EarthKam logoInternational Space Station 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, 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 space station.

For more information about the project and to register for the upcoming mission, visit the EarthKAM home page.

If you have questions about the EarthKAM project, please e-mail

Document Your Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Investigation With a Stop-Action Camera

PlantCamWouldn’t it be great to have a stop-action camera that could document the growth of your students’ plants in the NASA Explorer Schools module, Lunar Plant Growth Chamber? What might be other possible classroom uses for such a camera?

Head over to a blog by the National Science Teachers Association, a NES partner, and read about innovative ways to use a stop-action camera in the classroom. There’s even a link to an opportunity to win a BirdCam or PlantCam. The deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2011.

NASA Now: X-48B Research Aircraft and Green Technology

NASA Now logoNASA is researching ways to incorporate “green technology” into new airplane designs. One new design uses a blended wing body, which has the potential to enable cleaner, quieter and higher performance in air transportation. This unique aircraft is called the X-48B and is being tested right now at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California.


What is the future for this type of technology? Could the design be used in the near future for commercial air flight? Watch this episode to learn more about green technology, test flights and the future.

Link to this NASA Now episode (must be logged into the NES Virtual Campus)

Link to other NASA Now events (must be logged into the NES Virtual Campus)

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Design a Spacecraft to Explore Mercury

Mission to MercuryNASA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have teamed up to create a website for students in support of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. In the Make a Mission module, students design a spacecraft capable of completing several mission goals as it explores the planet closest to the sun.

NASA Explorer Schools educators may want to consider using this website in conjunction with the NES module MESSENGER: Staying Cool — My Angle on Cooling — Effects of Distance and Inclination.

Hobgood Students Walk to the Moon

Sixth-grade mathematics and science teacher and NASA Explorer Schools educator Chick Knitter and the staff of Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., have developed a unique and exciting challenge for their 400 students — walk to the moon!

The students’ challenge is to walk 235,000 miles collectively, the distance from Earth to the moon. The staff tallies all students’ laps around the school’s quarter-mile track. To “get to the moon,” students will need to complete one million laps. The updates on miles are given weekly on the school’s TV webcast as well as a monthly “Moon Fact.”

The school had a kick-off for the Walk to the Moon Challenge this fall with Dr. Rhea Seddon. She is a former astronaut who lives in the area and is serving as the Grand Marshall. They hope to finish with the challenge by the end of the school year but will continue until they reach their “lofty” goal. Seddon plans to return to the school when the challenge is near completion and walk the last mile for the school as part of the closing ceremony. 

This challenge encourages students to stay healthy as well as learn about NASA, space and reaching their goals. What a great idea!