Barrett Elementary School Wins First Prize in Spaced Out Sports Challenge

News flash from Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School’s Project Discovery in Arlington, Va.

Number 1 graphicBarrett’s NASA Save the Earth team won first prize in the Spaced Out Sports Challenge Contest! NASA contacted staff members Allyson Greene, Wendy Cohen, Laurie Sullivan, and Terry Bratt with the good news. Out of 57 entries nationwide, Barrett Elementary took first place in the contest. This accomplishment was the result of a huge team effort by all of the fifth-grade teachers, along with Renee Shaw’s wonderful filming and editing talents. The students worked very hard to design a fun, yet challenging sports-based game for astronauts on the International Space Station to play on an upcoming mission.

For taking first place, the students’ game will be played by the International Space Station crew and recorded for a future NASA TV broadcast. Barrett students will communicate with the astronauts about their game plan. 

Information about the contest was posted on the NES Teachers Corner on Nov. 9, 2010.

Read a description of the contest and find a link to the school’s website with additional contest details and pictures in the article in NEON.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Science Discovery Night at K.W. Barrett Elementary School

Recently, NASA Explorer Schools educator Allyson Green and the staff at K.W. Barrett Elementary School hosted their annual Science Discovery Night. The event was an open house format in their gym featuring nine science activities including telescopes, reptiles, invention convention, a videoconference with NASA, viewing student projects, LEGO Mindstorm demos, Spaced Out Sports NASA Challenge demos, and the most popular — building with LEGOS. Green and her coworkers promoted the event through their internal television system, talking with parents, sending home student-made invitations, and holding mini science fair classes for parents who do not speak English as their first language. Over 60 percent of the entire student body attended.

The evening was organized with a passport format. Students and parents used a passport to visit each area, getting a stamp after participating in the activity. After all nine stamps were collected, students picked a NASA-related prize.

Science Discovery Night was a very successful event. Feedback from parents, students and staff was very positive. 

Story Postscript: Barrett found out on Wednesday, March 30, that their NASA Spaced Out Sports Challenge team came in first place. They had a diverse team of fifth-grade students working on a game called “Save The Earth.” The game was based on Newton’s Three Laws of Motion and was formulated with the Engineering Design Process. Congratulations to all involved!

May 6: Meteors from Halley's Comet

Mark your calendar. On May 6th, Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley’s comet, producing a mild but beautiful meteor shower known as the “eta Aquarids.”

NES National Student Symposium Showcases Student Research

Students from across the nation will gather at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 4-7 for the NASA Explorer Schools National Student Symposium. Future leaders in science, technology, education and math, or STEM, will present their work to NASA scientists, engineers, fellow students and educators.

The competitively selected group of fourth through 12th-graders consists of 58 students and their teachers. The various student research projects were designed to improve learning and bolster interest in STEM disciplines.

The students were required to complete an original investigation focused on existing NASA missions or research interests. Students presented their work to experts at virtual regional symposia held January through March at NASA centers using the agency’s Digital Learning Network.

In addition to presenting their work at the national symposium, participants also will learn more about NASA’s research activities and exploration missions. Students will tour a variety of operational facilities at Kennedy, including the space shuttle launch complex, and participate in a webcase of a career panel featuring NASA scientists, engineers and specialists.

Congratulations to the students and schools attending the National Student Symposium:

School Name



Orleans Elementary School


Hot Air Balloon

Forest Heights Elementary School


When They Build It, We Will Come

Forest Lake Elementary Technology Magnet School


Hand Sanitizer-Friend or Foe?

Franke Park Elementary School


The Insulation Properties of Snow

Johnson Magnet for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics


NASA Lunar Plant Growth Chamber

Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School


Save the Earth

Kenneth J Carberry Intermediate School


Growing Crystals

Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School


It’s Just Right

Oceanair Elementary School


What is the Effect of Temperature on the Survival Rate of Yeast?




Harding Middle School


Testing the Effects of Altering Viscosities of Nutritions Supplements

Hobgood Elementary School


One if By Sea, Two if By Land

Lebanon Middle School


Growing plants on the Moon

Northeast Nodaway R-V


The Effect of the Number of Straws on the Distance the Rocket  Racer Travels

Dr. Albert Einstein Academy


Lunar Plant Growth Chamber

Edward Harris Jr. Middle School


Dirty, Stinky Water

Ellen Ochoa Learning Center


Moldilocks and the FunGuy (Fungi)

Island City Research Academy


Life on the Moon

Broughal Middle School


Quasar or Black Hole

Ferndale Middle School


Planting the Future

Hudson Middle School


Water Filtration Challenge

Johnston Middle School


Microbes in Space

Key Peninsula Middle School


Waste Water Recycling System

Shelburne Community School


NASA On Target Challenge

Two Rivers Magnet Middle School


Life on Europa

Middle School at Parkside

7, 8

Mission to Phoebe




Albertville High School


Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration 

Central Florida Aerospace Academy of Kathleen High School


The Effect of Sodiium Hypochlorite on the Efficiencies of Carbon Filters

Covenant Christian High School


Parabolar in Sapce and Time

Newnan High School


Lunar Surface Instrumentation

NASA Features Earth Day Video Contest!

Everyone knows NASA as the space exploration agency. It’s easy to forget that exploring Earth is exploring a celestial body. It is, in fact, the only planet we’ve ever been to — our Home Frontier. To continue the celebration of Earth Day, NASA is giving you an opportunity to produce a short video about what you find inspiring and important about our unique view of Earth and understanding about how our planet works. After the contest ends on May 27, 2011, the feature selected as the best entry — chosen by a panel of NASA scientists and communicators — will be posted on the NASA home page.

Read the article in NEON for instructions and an overview of the video submission process.

Be sure to log into the NES Virtual Campus and check out our related Earth Day edition of NASA Now: Earth Day – Smog Bloggers at to see how we are monitoring air quality daily.

NES Gearing Up for the 2011-2012 School Year

NASA Explorer Schools will begin re-enrollment for the upcoming school year beginning on May 2. By re-enrolling, you will have continued access to engaging and exciting classroom materials from NES, including 20 new product modules for 2011-2012, and a fresh collection of NASA Now and live chat events planned for the coming school year.

When current registered participants log on to the Virtual Campus after May 2, a pop-up window will appear.

Learn more about enrolling in NES for the 2011-2012 school year!

NASA Now: Earth Day – Smog Bloggers

NASA Now logo

In this episode of NASA Now, Dr. Raymond Hoff, Director of the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology and Director of Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center, discusses what smog is, how to access air quality information, and how our health and environmental can be affected by air quality.

The Smog Blog is a group of seven students, led by Dr. Hoff, who use LIDAR and NASA satellites to monitor our air quality each day. This team also uses ground-level data gathered by NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to give a daily report about U.S. air quality.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

NASA Now Minute: Earth Day — Smog Bloggers

Anderson and Tabor Develop and Share the Solar Sprint Activity. National Competition to Follow? Get in on the Fun!

Richard Tabor, fourth-grade teacher, and Stephen Anderson, principal at Amerman Elementary School in Michigan, found a method encouraging fourth-grade students to think about multiple variables and stimulates their curiosity when an activity doesn’t come out as predicted. They introduced a “Solar Sprint” activity in which students design, test and race a solar-powered car built with LEGO bricks. They then presented one more challenge to their students: The winner of the Solar Sprint is not the fastest but, rather, the model that is most efficient, based on a ratio of speed to weight. The use of ratios simulates the actual work of scientists and engineers.

Anderson decided to post the article and activity on NASA Educators Online Network, or NEON, a collaboration site for NES teachers. When Donna Rand, a science teacher in Connecticut, noticed the post, she decided to try Solar Sprint with her own students. After posting her interest, Anderson asked her to share her data for comparison, which sparked an idea. Could this become a national competition? To join in on the fun and see how your students measure up, use this activity in your own classroom! Go to:

Be sure to check back after using Solar Sprint with your students to share your data with Anderson and Rand in the forum. Whose students will produce the most efficient solar powered car?

Solar Sprint was featured in Science & Children, the National Science Teachers Association’s peer-reviewed journal for elementary science teachers. Both Anderson and Rand are NASA Explorer Schools participants. Rand uses NES resources to stimulate critical thinking through engaging activities. Anderson promotes NES at Amerman Elementary School to stimulate STEM education for his students. 

Demonstrate the connection between the Solar Sprint and real NASA engineering to your students by showing them the NASA Now program from Jan. 12, 2011, “The Mechanics of Solar Panels.” You’ll hear from Jeremiah McNatt, an electrical engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio. McNatt will demonstrate how solar cells are made and used on the International Space Station.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Opportunity for High School Students and Their Teachers to Participate in a Two-Semester Lunar Research Program for the 2011-2012 Academic Year

Lunar and Planetary Institute banner
The Center for Lunar Science and Exploration at the Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are looking for teams of highly motivated and dedicated high school students and their teachers to participate in a two-semester lunar research program for the 2011-2012 academic year. Under the mentorship of a lunar scientist, students work alongside their teachers as they undertake a national standards-based research project that engages them in the process of science and supports the science goals of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, or NLSI. At the end of the semester, students present their research results to a panel of lunar scientists in a competition with other teams for a chance to present their work at the NLSI Forum held in July 2012.

Contact Andy Shaner at 281-486-2163 or by e-mail for more information. You can also visit the program’s website or FAQ page.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.