NES Events Next Week (Apr. 30 – May 4)

NES National Student Symposium, Johnson Space Center

Students from NES project schools across the country are attending the NASA Explorer Schools National Student Symposium at Johnson Space Center, Houston Tex. Students are presenting their investigation or design challenge findings to NASA personnel and other students attending the event. Other activities include an astronaut presentation, facility tours, student activities and a career awareness panel. To earn an invitation to the symposium, students conducted an investigation or design challenge and presented it to a panel of NASA personnel during the NES Virtual Student Symposium.

Professional Development

Professional Development – Geometry: Space Math Problems-Solar Storms

Apr. 30, 8 – 9 p.m. EDT
Get an overview of the problem sets, suggestions for implementation of best practices and some extension activities including additional Space Math problems that may be appropriate for your curriculum. 

May 2, 8 – 9 p.m. EDT
Go through three mathematical computations to determine usable and unusable portions of foods. The seminar includes an extension activity comparing mold growth on bread and tortillas in order to see why tortillas are an acceptable bread substitute in microgravity. The forms of packaged food products that are fine for travel on Earth are not always suitable for use on space flights. There are limitations to weight and volume when traveling and the microgravity conditions experienced in space also affect the food packaging.NASA Now: Balloon ResearchDebbie Fairbrother, Chief Technologist in the Balloon Program at Wallops Flight Facility in Va., discusses two types of high-altitude balloons NASA uses to test scientific instruments and spacecraft. Prepare to be amazed when you find out how big the balloons are and much mass they can lift.

NASA's 747 and Enterprise Land in New York

Enterprise mounted on NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft flying over New York City.NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with Enterprise mounted atop flew at a relatively low altitude over various parts of the New York City metropolitan area near a variety of landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Intrepid. After the flyover it landed at JFK International Airport.The Federal Aviation Administration coordinated the flight.

Several weeks following the arrival, Enterprise will be “demated” from the 747 and placed on a barge that will be moved by tugboat up the Hudson River to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in June. The shuttle will be lifted by crane and placed on the flight deck of the Intrepid where it will be on exhibit to the public starting this summer in a temporary climate-controlled pavilion. The Intrepid continues work on a permanent exhibit facility to showcase Enterprise that will enhance the museum’s space-related exhibits and education curriculum.

For more information about NASA”s transfer of shuttles to museums, visit

Satellite Meteorology Lesson Modified for Younger Students

NASA Explorer Schools educator Kaci Pilcher Heins from Northland Preparatory Academy used the NES featured lesson Satellite Meteorology to introduce weather and climate to her sixth-grade students. Even though the lesson is written for upper grades, she modified the lesson using her own extensions.

To find out more about the Satellite Meteorology lesson, go to Weather and Climate: Satellite Meteorology on Facebook or to the Satellite Meteorology forum in NEON.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

NASA Now: MMSEV-The Future of Robotic Exploration

NASA NowMeet Fernando Zumbado, a NASA Robotic Systems Engineer who works with the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle, or MMSEV. Zumbado explains how the robotic MMSEV vehicle is designed to adapt to its environment, capable of both in-flight missions and surface exploration of microgravity bodies.

Preview of NASA Now: MMSEV-The Future of Robotics

NASA Measures Impact of Huge Solar Flare on Earth's Atmosphere

TIMED satellite, artist's conceptA key NASA instrument that can directly measure the impact of solar events on Earth’s upper atmosphere has “weighed in” on the huge flare that impacted Earth recently.

The flare was considered one of the largest solar events in years, even though its impact on the power grid and communications was minimal due to the angle it hit Earth.

To read more and watch a video about this huge solar flare, visit feature story acts as an excellent extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson Geometry: Space Math Problems — Solar Storms. In this lesson, students use geometry and measurement to track solar activity.

This lesson can be found in the lesson library on the NES Virtual Campus.

Teacher Adds a Twist to Space Shuttle Ascent

Vin UrbanowskiNASA Explorer Schools teacher Vin Urbanowski wanted to plan something exciting for a substitute teacher to use. He decided to use the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math — Space Shuttle Ascent. Urbanowski planned this as an independent project and instructed students to create computer presentations for him to review when he returned to class the following day. This seemed to be a good way to ensure that students did the work.

Upon viewing the student presentations, Urbanowski came up with several conclusions about the activity. He found that his students worked hard independently because they were genuinely interested in the topic. He also noted that breaking the lesson into two days — one for the work and one for presentations –- promoted responsibility and created an opportunity for students to defend their work. After completing the presentations, the students were thrilled to find out that they had actually learned some calculus.

The activity, done in Urbanowski’s absence, challenged his students not only to complete a real-world NASA activity, but to present and defend their work. This story highlights a NASA Explorer Schools Strategy for Success for Curriculum Integration of NES materials.

To access this lesson for your class, visit the NES Virtual Campus.

NES Events Next Week (Apr. 23 – 27)

NES Video Chat

NES Video Chat: NASA Untamed

Apr 23 from 1-2 p.m. EDT
In celebration of Earth Day 2012, Becky Bolt, a wildlife ecologist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will answer student questions about how scientists study wildlife and how this research helps support space operations.

NES Professional Development Opportunity for Teachers

Heat Transfer: MESSENGER — My Angle on Cooling Web Seminar
April 23, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. EDT
Learn how to use the mission’s Staying Cool activities to lead students through an examination of different solutions to the problem of how to deal with too much sunlight and energy.

NES Video Chat

Live Video Chat: 100,000,000,000 Planets in Our Galaxy and Counting

April 25, 2012, from noon – 1 p.m. EDT
NASA research scientist Stephen Kane will answer questions from students in grades 4-12 about a study he co-authored showing there are 100 billion planets in our galaxy.

Review the NES calendar for other upcoming events.

Have you Heard the one About the Rubber Chicken?

Camilla the rubber chicken at Kennedy Space Center in front of the Vehicle Assembly BuildingLast month, when the sun unleashed the most intense radiation storm since 2003, peppering satellites with charged particles and igniting strong auroras around both poles, a group of high school students in Bishop, Calif., knew just what to do.They launched a rubber chicken.The students inflated a helium balloon and used it to send the fowl, named “Camilla,” to an altitude of 36.6 km, or 120,000 ft, where it was exposed to high-energy solar protons at point blank range.

Camilla flew twice–once on Mar. 3 before the radiation storm and again on Mar. 10 while the storm was in full swing, giving the students a basis for comparison.

Read more about how the chicken got to the “other side” by visiting

If you’re interested in ballooning, check out the NES lesson, Engineering Design: Forces and Motion — Balloon Aerodynamics Challenge (requires log in to the NES Virtual Campus website).

Historic Shuttles to Arrive at Permanent Locations by Year's End

Silhouette of shuttle and transport jet during sunsetBy the end of 2012, NASA’s space shuttles will be in their new homes.

Recently, the shuttles were on the move as part of the transition and retirement activities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

On Feb. 1, Bart Pannullo, NASA vehicle manager for transition and retirement, watched as shuttle Endeavour was backed out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and towed to Orbiter Processing Facility-2.

The next day, shuttle Atlantis made an appearance outside the VAB as it was towed from the VAB transfer aisle into high bay 4 for temporary storage. Atlantis is being prepared for public display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in 2013.

To read more about the final destinations for NASA’s historic space shuttles, you may visit

This story is a great extension to share with your students after completing the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math — Space Shuttle Ascent. This lesson can be found on the Virtual Campus website.