Monthly Archives: March 2013

NES Educators Selected to Attend the 2013 Honeywell

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Congratulations to NASA Explorer Schools educators Elizabeth Petry at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School, Suffolk, Va., and Tammy Lundy from Forest Lake Elementary Technology Magnet School, Columbia, S.C. Petry and Lundy have been selected to attend the 2013 Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. HE@SA is a professional development program for teachers who want to learn new and innovative techniques to inspire and educate their students about science and mathematics.


This summer, more than 200 teachers will participate as the HE@SA’s Class of 2013. All costs associated with travel, tuition, room and board are sponsored by Honeywell Hometown Solutions.

Form more information about this program, visit the HE@SA website.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.

NASA's Webb Telescope Gets Its Wings

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A massive backplane that will hold the primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope nearly motionless while it peers into space is another step closer to completion with the recent assembly of the support structure’s wings.

The wings enable the mirror, made of 18 pieces of beryllium, to fold up and fit inside a 5 meter, or 16.4 feet, fairing on a rocket, and then unfold to 6.4 meters, or 21 feet, in diameter after the telescope is delivered to space. All that is left to build is the support fixture that will house an integrated science instrument module, and technicians will connect the wings and the backplane’s center section to the rest of the observatory. The center section was completed in April 2012.

On May 17, 2012 NASA Explorer Schools held a live interactive Web chat with Nobel Laureate, Dr. John Mather. Dr. Mather, Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, joined NES to answer questions from students across the country. To watch his presentation and chat with NASA Explorer Schools students, visit the chat page titled, The Big Bang and The Milky Way .

To see pictures and read more about the James Webb Space Telescope, check out the article, NASA’s Webb Telescope Gets Its Wings.

Professional Development Web Seminar: Engineering Design Challenge: Thermal Protection System

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Professional Development Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences for educators, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute live professional development Web seminar for educators on March 28, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Learn about the science of heat transfer and heat dissipation related to NASA vehicles, and receive an introduction to the associated engineering design challenge, Thermal Protection System. In this activity, students are challenged to design a thermal protection system and test it using a propane torch.

This is the last time, during the current school year, this seminar will be offered.

For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

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

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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 March 26, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

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 is the final time during the current school year this seminar will be offered.

For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

NASA's NuSTAR Helps Solve Riddle of Black Hole Spin

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Two X-ray space observatories, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.

The supermassive black hole lies at the dust- and gas-filled heart of a galaxy called NGC 1365, and it is spinning almost as fast as Einstein’s theory of gravity will allow. The findings, which appear in a new study in the journal Nature, resolve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve.

To read more about NuSTAR’s discovery, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/nustar/news/nustar20130227.html.

This article is a great extension to NASA Now: Electromagnetic Spectrum: NuSTAR. To access this program, visit the NASA Now page on the NES Virtual Campus.

NASA On Course to Launch Orion Flight Test

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The first spacecraft NASA has designed to fly astronauts beyond Earth orbit since the Apollo era is well on its way to making a flight test next year. The mission is planned for launch in September 2014, and will see an Orion capsule orbit Earth without a crew and return through the atmosphere at speeds unseen since astronauts last returned from the moon in 1972.

To read more about this exciting development, visit https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/mpcv/Triprogrambriefing.html.

As Orion continues preparation to take astronauts further into space, take a look back at the recently ended shuttle program and have your students track the linear regression of a space shuttle launch. Check out the launch video of Shuttle mission STS-121 then have them create a scatter plot from real launch data. Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math—Space Shuttle Ascent is a NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson and is available in the NES Virtual Campus Lesson Library.

NASA Deciphering the Mysterious Math of the Solar Wind

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Many areas of scientific research — Earth’s weather, ocean currents, the outpouring of magnetic energy from the sun — require mapping out the large scale features of a complex system and its intricate details simultaneously.

Describing such systems accurately, relies on numerous kinds of input, beginning with observations of the system, incorporating mathematical equations to approximate those observations, running computer simulations to attempt to replicate observations, and cycling back through all the steps to refine and improve the models until they jibe with what’s seen. Ultimately, the models successfully help scientists describe, and even predict, how the system works.

To read more about the math involved with solar activity studies, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/math-solarwind.html.

This research provides an extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus.

Professional Development Web Seminar: Messenger-My Angle on Cooling

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Professional Development Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute Web seminar on March 21, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Learn how the MESSENGER mission to Mercury takes advantage of passive cooling methods to keep the spacecraft functioning in a high-temperature environment. You will also see 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.

This is the final time this seminar will be repeated during the current school year.

For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

Professional Development Web Seminar: Engineering Design Challenge — Spacecraft Structures

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Professional Development Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences for educators, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute live professional development Web seminar for educators on March 20, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Learn how to incorporate the excitement of rocketry into your classroom during this Web seminar and receive an overview of the student engineering design challenge, Spacecraft Structures, where students design and construct a strong, but lightweight, structure that can withstand the launch of a water bottle “rocket.”


This is the final offering of this Web seminar during the current school year.


For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.


NASA Now: Jet Engine Testing

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Be sure not to miss the March 20, 2013 episode of NASA Now, introduced by NES educator Ty Fredricks, an educator from Orcutt, Calif., when Queito Thomas, a Test Operations Engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center discusses how and why his team tests jet engines in the Propulsion Systems Laboratory.


This NASA Now classroom video is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Mar. 20, 2013.

NASA Now Minute
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