NASA Now – Engineering Design Process: Hubble Space Telescope

NASA NowNASA engineer Russ Werneth discusses the continuous nature of the engineering design process and shares what it was like to design and plan the spacewalks that were key to the Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions.

This episode of NASA Now is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Apr. 18.

Preview of NASA Now: Hubble Space Telescope

NES Educator and Students Embark on a High-Flying Adventure

Hey, NASA Explorer Schools teachers! NES educator Kaci Pilcher Heins has a great way to get students involved with STEM — high-altitude ballooning! She says, “Usually each state has a ballooning organization and is very willing to get students involved. We are heading to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott tomorrow (April 12, 2012) to launch our payload of temperature sensor, pressure sensor, camera, and sensitive film to try and capture gamma rays on board a high-altitude balloon. This is also a great opportunity for my sixth-graders to talk with university students as we tour the campus.” Pilcher Heins reports that they are also using amateur radio with the repeater on the balloon.

Here is a picture of the predicted flight path (prepared prior to the flight)

Map showing the projected flight path of the high altitude balloon

Here are two pictures of Earth taken during the high-altitude balloon flight on April 12

Photo showing curvature of Earth against the black of space as seen from the high-altitude balloon flight.

Photo showing curvature of Earth as seen from the high-altitude balloon flight.

Directly related to this activity is the NES featured lesson, Engineering Design: Forces and Motion — Balloon Aerodynamics.

And be sure to make a note in your calendar — on May 2, “NASA Now: Balloon Research” comes to the NES Virtual Campus.

NES Events Next Week


NES Video Chat: Space Shuttle Discovery Fly Out

On April 16, from 1-2:30 p.m. EDT, your students have an opportunity to interact with NASA experts who will be on hand at the Space Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to celebrate the Space Shuttle Discovery Fly Out.


NES Recognition Opportunities Overview

NASA Explorer Schools recognizes teachers, schools and students who become highly engaged with all the NES project has to offer. Highly engaged participants have the opportunity to apply for unique, expenses-paid recognition opportunities for teachers, students and schools. Attend this session on Apr. 17, from 4-5 p.m. EDT and learn how your can participate in these exciting recognition opportunities. Click on the title of this section to register.

Algebraic Equations: Calculator Controlled Robots Professional Development Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute Web seminar on Apr. 18, 2012, at 8:15 p.m. EDT. Discover a unique way of integrating robotic technology into your algebra classes. Robotic missions engage students and provide a unique way of bringing to life the concepts you are teaching. Learn to use programmable Texas Instruments, or TI, calculators and Norland Research Robots to solve problems requiring substituting values for variables in formulas.

This seminar provides an overview of using robotics in algebra so you can make an informed decision about purchasing the robots and other equipment. You do not need to have a Norland Research Robot or programmable TI calculator to participate in this seminar, or know how to program the calculator.

For more information and to register online, click on the title of this section.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Fourth Grade Students Request and Receive GRAIL Moon Image

One of two NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon has beamed back the first student-requested pictures of the lunar surface from its onboard camera. Fourth grade students from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., received the honor of making the first image selections by winning a nationwide competition to rename the two spacecraft.

To read more about this student opportunity and see the image, visit the NASA feature story page. This story details an opportunity NASA opened to students to rename two spacecraft and of students getting involved in moon research serves as an excellent extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Engineering Design Process: On the Moon. Be sure to share this with your students who have completed this activity. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus.

NASA Now: Scientific Method — Using Robots for Inquiry

NASA NowPaulo Younse is a robotics engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, Calif. and is an expert on NASA’s newest Mars rover, Curiosity. In this NASA Now classroom video he talks about how each mission to Mars is determined by the information gained from previous missions. He explains how scientists and robots work together using the scientific method of research.

This video is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Apr. 11.

Preview of NASA Now: Using Robots for Inquiry

NASATalk NXT Tweetup

NXT Robot Controller with ArmThe NASATalk NXT Tweetup will provide a light introduction for those new to Twitter, while at the same time presenting several NXT robotics resources for use in classroom or informal education settings, on Monday-Friday, April 9-13, from 4-5 p.m. EDT.

This event focuses on NXT robotics questions, answers and comments being addressed within the activities presented in the Group Activities on the NASATalk NXT Tweetup website.

The activities include:

   • Circles, Ratios and Robot Navigation.
   • Robot Virtual Worlds.
   • Decibel Detection (Using Sound Sensor).
   • Rocker Bogie Rover Wheel System.
   • Gear Ratios Applied to Robots.

For more information, including a short file with Twitter instructions, see

If you’re on Twitter, follow @NXTtweetup. One tweet will be added every 15 minutes during the event.

Direct your NASATalk NXT Robotics Tweetup questions to the following:

   • Meri Cummingsabout appropriate activities and the Tweetup schedule.
   • Kendyl Morrisabout creating a Twitter account and tweeting.
   • Chris Ruckmanabout using NASATalk.

NASA Now: Lasers and Light — STORRM

Byron Meadows, a laser systems engineer at NASA, describes his work on the Sensor Testing for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation, or STORRM, project. STORRM is a sensor and laser technology that will make it easier for space vehicles to dock to the International Space Station.

This sensing technology also could be used for applications on Earth such as climate and environmental observations, robotic maneuvering, topographical surveillance, and hazard avoidance systems for cars or aircraft.

Meadows explains why NASA wants to develop technology that can operate autonomously, how STORRM accomplished this goal, and how lasers make the project possible.

This program is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Apr. 4.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Preview of Lasers and Light — STORRM

Egg Drop Activity

NASA Explorer Schools educator Lesley Stranger from Sewells Point Elementary School modified the Newton’s Laws of Motion: Lunar Nautics — Lunar Base Egg Drop activity. After completing the lesson in class, the fourth-grade students demonstrated the lesson to their parents, siblings and community members during the school’s Family Math and Science Night. Out of the 17 groups that presented, not once was the teacher needed as a facilitator or mediator. 

For details on the lesson modifications, read the entry in NEON or Facebook.

NES Professional Development Next Week

Professional Development Opportunity

Meteorology: How Clouds Form Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a free 90-minute Web seminar on April 9, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Learn about the relationships between air pressure, temperature, volume and cloud formation. Get an overview of the necessary conditions for cloud formation and then see how to make a cloud in a bottle. Information will be provided about an extension activity, the S’COOL Project, which involves student participation in authentic science.

For more information and to register online, visit

Engineering Design: Forces and Motion — The Great Boomerang Challenge Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a free 90-minute professional development Web seminar for educators on April 11, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Learn how NASA aerodynamics research can be applied to boomerang design to increase performance. During the session, participants will be introduced to the Boomerang Design Challenge and learn how to incorporate this activity into science classes. The seminar also includes information about two unique extensions. In the first, students access a free computer simulation illustrating the airflow around an airfoil to determine the correct flow equation, and a second extension uses an interactive simulation to determine the airflow around various shapes of airfoils.

For more information and to register online, visit

To learn more about the NASA Explorer Schools project, visit

Email any questions about these opportunities to the NES Help Desk at

Evolution of the Moon

Evolution of the Moon: From year to year, the moon never seems to change. Craters and other formations appear to be permanent now, but the moon didn’t always look like this. Thanks to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now have a better look at some of the moon’s history.

Learn more in this video!