High School Students Operate Robotic Satellites on International Space Station

SPHERES Competition LogoOn Friday, Jan. 11th, high school students from around the world joined in fierce competition to claim the championship spot in the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2012. The young competitors operated robotic satellites aboard the International Space Station, or ISS, using programs they wrote in preparation for the event. The finalists watched the action via live downlink from the space station with anticipation, as astronauts supervised the satellites during the ISS Finals.

The finals event followed three months of online simulation competitions, during which the initial pool of 96 teams from the United States and 47 teams from Europe was narrowed to nine and six alliances, respectively. Each alliance consisted of three different teams of high school students that joined forces in November 2012 to collaborate and write the best computer programs to run on the SPHERES aboard the space station.

To read more about the ZERO Robotics challenge, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/zero_robotics.html.

To get your math students involved in using robotics to discover algebra concepts, check out the NASA Explorer Schools lesson: Algebraic Equations: Calculator Controlled Robots. The lesson can be found on the NES Virtual Campus at http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.

Professional Development Web Seminar: Human Body–Space Adaptations

Professional Development Web Seminar

NASA Explorer Schools and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute live professional development Web seminar for educators on Jan. 16, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Space is a harsh environment. When an astronaut goes into space, his or her body immediately begins to change, causing the astronaut to feel and even look slightly different. During this seminar, you will get information about the effects of microgravity on astronauts. You also will be guided through three student activities, which provide a first-hand look at the effects of reduced gravity on bones, the fluid shifts in the body and the amount of oxygen needed to survive.

This seminar will be repeated on April 24, 2013.

For more information and to register online, visit http://learningcenter.nsta.org/products/symposia_seminars/NES3/webseminar22.aspx.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.

NASA Now: The Future of Space Travel

NASA NowIn this NASA Now classroom video, introduced by educator Kaci Heins from Northland Preparatory Academy, NASA astronaut Greg Johnson discusses the future of space exploration and the logical progression of sending humans to Mars. He talks about sending astronauts back to the moon and the possibility of building a lunar habitat to understand more about working and living in space. 

Johnson has logged over 5,000 hours in more than 50 aircraft.

Preview of NASA Now: The Future of Space Travel

Professional Development Web Seminar: Properties of Living Things–Searching for Fingerprints of Life on Mars

Professional Development Web Seminar

NASA Explorer Schools and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute Web seminar for educators on Jan. 10, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. EST. This web seminar features two lessons: one on extremophiles and the other on searching for life. Review criteria for determining if something is alive and learn how students apply the criteria in a hands-on activity. A video will be shown that connects the activity to a NASA mission. Collaborate with other participants about ways of using and adapting the activity. Extension activities for students interested in the topic will be provided.

This seminar is offered again on April 18, 2013.

For more information and to register online, visit http://learningcenter.nsta.org/products/symposia_seminars/NES3/webseminar21.aspx.

Professional Development Web Seminar: Analyzing Solar Energy Graphs — MY NASA DATA

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 for educators on Jan 8, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. EST.

Become familiar with the MY NASA DATA activity, “Solar Cell Energy Availability From Around the Country.” Compare monthly averages of downward radiation in locations around the U.S. and analyze areas where conditions would be conducive to having solar panels. Access data on the NASA Live Access Server as you “journey” around the U.S. to determine the amount of solar radiation and analyze overlay plots to compare data from NASA satellites.

This seminar is offered again on March 26, 2013.

For more information and to register online, visit http://learningcenter.nsta.org/products/symposia_seminars/NES3/webseminar20.aspx.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Smithsonian's Stars Lecture Series

Are you or your students (ages 13 years or older) curious about our nearest star, moon rocks, volcanoes and other wonders of the universe? Come to the Smithsonian’s Stars, a series of 10 lectures by Smithsonian researchers who are exploring the sun, the moon, planets, stars, galaxies and the universe. These speakers will share behind-the-scenes details about how their research is done and technologies that advance new discoveries at the Smithsonian Institution.

Each lecture begins at 5:15 p.m. and is followed by a question-and-answer session. A Discovery Station activity will take place at 4 p.m. prior to each lecture. Stay after the lecture to visit the observatory, weather permitting.

Upcoming lectures are:

•  Jan. 5, 2013 — Trees in the City: Urban Tree Cover Dynamics in the District of Columbia
•  Feb. 2, 2013 — Volcano Breath
•  Feb. 16, 2013 — Venus: 50 Years After Mariner 2
•  Mar. 2, 2013 — Robots and Humans Unite: A Decade of Astronomical Discovery with Hectospec

For more information about the Smithsonian’s Stars Lecture Series and to see a full schedule of upcoming lectures, visit http://airandspace.si.edu/events/lectures/stars/index.cfm.

Questions about this lecture series should be directed to the visitor service line at 202-633-1000.

The Smithsonian’s Stars Lecture Series is made possible by a grant from NASA.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.