NASA Announces two National Student Science Competitions

a dimeNASA is offering students the opportunity to compete in two microgravity challenges: “Dropping In a Microgravity Environment,” or DIME, and “What If No Gravity?” or WING.

DIME is a team competition for high school students in the ninth through 12th grades. WING is a competition for student teams from the fifth through eighth grades. Both are project-oriented activities that last throughout the school year for the selected teams.

DIME and WING are open to student teams from all 50 states, Washington, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each team must have an adult supervisor, such as a teacher, parent or technical consultant. Teams may be from any type of organization or club, such as a science class, a group of friends, a scout troop or youth group.

Proposals are due by Nov. 1. A panel of NASA scientists and engineers will evaluate and select the top-ranked proposals by Dec. 1. The winning teams will design and build the experiments that will be conducted in the 2.2-Second Drop Tower at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

The 79-foot tower gets its name because when an experiment is “dropped” into it, the package experiences weightlessness, or microgravity, for 2.2 seconds. Researchers from around the world use this tower to study the effects of microgravity on physical phenomena, such as combustion and fluid dynamics, and to develop new technology for future space missions.

The top four DIME teams will receive an expense-paid trip to Glenn in March 2012 to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA personnel and tour the center’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 for NASA testing. These experiments and the resulting data will be returned to the teams, so they can prepare reports about their findings.

If you have questions or are looking for more information about entering DIME and WING student team competitions, visit

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.

YouTube Lab-What will you do?

Space helmet and book bag.If you’re 14 to 18 years old, come up with a science experiment for space and upload a video explaining it to YouTube. If your idea wins, it will be performed on the International Space Station and live streamed on YouTube to the world. And you’ll get some out-of-this-world prizes, too.

Can plants survive beyond the Earth? Could proteins in space reveal the mysteries of life? Science in micro gravity can help unlock the answers. The countdown’s begun.

For more information about this opportunity visit

YouTube Space Lab

NASA to Seek Applicants for the Next Astronaut Candidate Class

In early November, NASA will seek applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates who will support long-duration missions to the International Space Station and future deep space exploration

“For scientists, engineers and other professionals who have always dreamed of experiencing spaceflight, this is an exciting time to join the astronaut corps,” said Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This next class will support missions to the station and will arrive via transportation systems now in development. They also will have the opportunity to participate in NASA’s continuing exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit.”

For more information, visit

A bachelor’s degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required in order to be considered. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet-aircraft.

After applicant interviews and evaluations, NASA expects to announce the final selections in 2013, and training to begin that August.

Additional information about the Astronaut Candidate Program is available by calling the Astronaut Selection Office at 281-483-5907.

Get Ready for the Launch of the Curiosity Rover

Artist concept of Curiosity rover on surface of MarsThe Curiosity rover is scheduled for launch to Mars on Nov. 25, 2011. To prepare for the launch, a telecon has been scheduled so you can hear about the many resources available for you to share the excitement of launch with your students. Topics during the telecon are:

   • Launch details: NASA TV rundown, scheduled press briefings and the Tweetup
   • Visuals: images and video
   • Educator professional development: workshops, telecons and presentations
   • Spacecraft models and other items for loan

Date: Monday, Oct. 10, 2011
Time: Noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT)
Call-in: 888-323-4924
Passcode: Museum
Leader: Anita Sohus

RESOURCES: Presentation materials will be posted prior to the telecon on the Museum Alliance website at:
Username: informal
Passcode: lifelong

NASA Invites Students to Name Moon-Bound Spacecraft

Artist concept of GRAIL twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon.NASA has a class assignment for U.S. students: help the agency give the twin GRAIL mission spacecraft headed to orbit around the moon new names.

The naming contest is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade at schools in the United States. Entries must be submitted by teachers using an online entry form. Length of submissions can range from a short paragraph to a 500-word essay. The entry deadline is Nov. 11.

For contest rules and more information, visit:

Email questions to:

For more information about GRAIL, visit:

Amazing Mazes Celebrate NASA Achievements

Sample Space Farm 7 mazeIn a special outreach titled Space Farm 7, seven of the nation’s top agritourism farms have been selected to celebrate and honor the U.S. space program in collaboration with NASA this fall. Each farm has planted corn mazes that will feature designs celebrating NASA’s achievements and progress in space. An increasingly popular phenomenon of crop circle-type creations, each of the seven corn mazes will open this fall to challenge and delight visitors.

The objective of this outreach project is to expose guests to NASA space exploration and educate children across the United States. The celebration is very timely because this year NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first American in space, the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle mission, and the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s deployment in space. 

Games and activities in the mazes will reinforce the educational missions of the space program so maze-goers can learn and have fun at the same time. Other activities proposed for the farms include traveling space displays, NASA-sponsored activities, and online educational materials. The group also is working together to schedule astronaut visits and to host a national contest where winners earn a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the chance to dine with an astronaut. Visit and vote on their favorite of the seven maze designs. A winner will be selected randomly at the end of October.

Participating farms include Belvedere Plantation in Fredericksburg, Va.; Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, N.Y.; The Rock Ranch in Rock, Ga.; Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Neb.; Dewberry Farm in Brookshire, Texas; Cornbelly’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Fest in Lehi, Utah; and Dell’Osso Family Farm in Lathrop, Calif. All are associated with The MAiZE Inc., the world’s largest maze design company.

To see pictures of the mazes and for more information, visit

Properties of Living Things: Fingerprints of Life Web Seminar

NASA Explorer Schools and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute live professional development Web seminar for educators on Oct. 5, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. EDT. The student activity featured in this seminar will introduce grades 5-8 students to the exciting world of astrobiology. The seminar will review criteria for determining if something is alive — or not alive — and apply those criteria to determine if anything is living in any of three different soil samples. This type of analysis is similar to what the Viking landers used on Mars when looking for life.

For more information and to register for the seminar visit

Video Chat for Students: Robots Digging Up Martian Geology

Paulo YounseJoin NES for a video chat on Oct. 5, 2011 at noon EDT. Paulo Younse, a robotics engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will answer student questions about a career as a robotics engineer, robot technology, what scientists already have learned about the geology of Mars, and what they are hoping to learn from the soon-to-launch Mars rover named Curiosity.

NES Teacher Field Tests Activities for NASA

NASA Explorer Schools educator Cheryl May from Lebanon Middle School in Lebanon, Ky., was one of 13 educators who attended the NASA Explorer Schools’ GAVRT, or Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope, Summer recognition workshop at the Lewis Center in Apple Valley, Calif., from July 1723, 2011. May, along with the other NES teachers, learned the basics of radio astronomy and how to control the 34-meter Goldstone Radio Telescope through the Internet so students can use the telescope for their own research projects. 

Many opportunities were presented to the educators throughout this workshop. May signed on to test lessons and activities from a yet-to-be-published Juno Mission Activities Guide. With the help of teachers like May, and her students, the creators of the guide can determine how accurate and helpful their guide will be in the classroom. One of the lessons, “Interior Inferring,” has students discover the difference between evidence and inference. The students then complete a rubric and send their reviews of the activities back to the creators of the Juno Mission Workbook.

For more information about the NES GAVRT recognition workshop, visit

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Home Page.