Exploring Newton's Laws of Motion

Simple staging rocket made of balloonsStudents of NASA Explorer Schools educator Dennis Hagen-Smith from Toluca Lake Elementary School completed the Balloon Rocket Experiment from the lesson Newton’s Laws of Motion: Lunar Nautics. This activity is a simple demonstration of rocket staging first proposed by Johann Schmidlap in the 16th century. Hagen-Smith’s students learned how rockets achieve greater distances through staging. They also found out that it takes an enormous amount of energy to boost an object into space.

Students were excited to see their balloon rockets move along the tether across the room as they recorded data from each group’s experimental design. As a follow-up extension activity linking social studies, students created timelines showing rocket development.

Check out the pictures from this lesson in the Balloon Rocket Experiment entry in the Lunar Nautics forum in the NASA Educators Online Network, or NEON.

NASA Launches Destination Innovation Video Series

Destination InnovationNASA has launched a new video series called Destination Innovation that will air on NASA Television. The series is featured on the agency’s website, YouTube, Facebook and NASA’s apps for iPhone®, iPad® and Android™.

The first episode of Destination Innovation details the Kepler mission and is a great extension to the NES featured lesson, Algebraic Equations: Transit Tracks — Finding Habitable Planets.

To access the related NES featured lesson, log into the Virtual Campus and navigate to Algebraic Equations: Transit Tracks — Finding Habitable Planets, in the lesson library.

iPhone, iPad and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.Android is a registered trademark of Google Inc.

Episode 1 – Kepler

NASA Now: Earth and Space Science: Asteroids

NASA Now logoThere are thousands of comets and asteroids in our solar system. When these objects enter Earth’s neighborhood, scientists classify them as Near Earth Objects. Senior Research Scientist Don Yeomans tells us where they are, how big they are and if they pose a threat to our planet.

This program is available on the Virtual Campus beginning Feb 8, 2012.

Preview of this program

Video Chat: Sea Level Rise and Global Climate Change

Josh WillisGive your students the opportunity to ask questions of a NASA oceanographer and climate scientist. Dr. Josh Willis is an oceanographer and climate scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He was the Deputy Project Scientist and a member of the science team on Jason 1 and 2. Willis is currently the Lead Project Scientist for the Jason 3 project.

To join the chat, go to the chat page up to 15 minutes prior to noon EST, where you will find instructions for logging into the chat room to ask questions.

Link to the chat page where you will find a list of resources to help you prepare your students for the chat: https://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/nes2/home/chat-sea-level.html

Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Inspires with Mission 1

Johnston Middle School in HoustonMiddle school students are doing research on the International Space Station? You better believe it!

“Insulin’s Molecular Structure in Microgravity” and “Hepatocyte Development in Bioscaffolds Infused with TGFB3 in Microgravity” are both titles of experiments developed by students from Johnston Middle School, in Houston, Texas.

For proof of the inspirational impact of the International Space Station, you need only speak to the educators of the students participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, or SSEP. The program offered 41,200 students from around the nation the chance to propose and design a microgravity experiment with the chance of having their experiment flown aboard the space station.

You may read more about this story at www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/SSEP.html.

See how you can inspire your students by getting them involved in a simulated International Space Station experience. Log in to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website and check out the featured lesson Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber and the NASA Now program Exercise Physiology: Countermeasures.

NASA Now: Electromagnetic Spectrum — NuSTAR

NASA Now logoAstrophysicist Ann Hornschemeier explains how NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, uses high-energy X-rays to search for and take pictures of the densest, hottest and most energetic regions in the universe!

This program is available on the Virtual Campus beginning Feb. 2, 2012.

Preview this program

NASA Releases Sector 33 Air Traffic Control Educational App

Sector 33 iTunes logoNASA has released a new educational game with an air traffic control theme for Apple iPhone and iPad devices. Sector 33 is designed to challenge students in middle school and above to use basic math and problem-solving skills.

This is a great companion app for the popular Distance-Rate-Time: Smart Skies lesson, available on the NES Virtual Campus.

An Android version of the app is in development and will be made available in the Android Marketplace in the coming months.

Visit Sector 33 for more information or to download the application free of charge.

NASA Releases First Multi-player Facebook Game

Space Race Blastoff logoNASA has launched its first multi-player online game totest players’ knowledge of the space program. Who was the firstAmerican to walk in space? Who launched the first liquid-fueledrocket? These are only a few of the questions players can answer inSpace Race Blastoff. 

Available on Facebook, Space Race Blastoff tests players’ knowledge ofNASA history, technology, science and pop culture. Players whocorrectly answer questions earn virtual badges depicting NASAastronauts, spacecraft and celestial objects. Players also earnpoints they can use to obtain additional badges to complete sets andearn premium badges. 

“Space Race Blastoff opens NASA’s history and research to a wide newaudience of people accustomed to using social media,” said DavidWeaver, NASA’s associate administrator for communications. “Spaceexperts and novices will learn new things about how explorationcontinues to impact our world.” 

NASA chose to make the game available through Facebook to takeadvantage of the social media site’s large audience and enableplayers to compete against others. Individuals also can play sologames. 

Once in the game, players choose an avatar and answer 10multiple-choice questions. Each correct answer earns 100 points, witha 20-point bonus to the player who answers first. The winner advancesto the bonus round to answer one additional question for more points. 

Correctly answering the bonus question earns the player a badge. 

Space Race Blastoff was developed by Scott Hanger, Todd Powell andJamie Noguchi of NASA’s Internet Services Group in the Office ofCommunications. Play the game now at http://apps.facebook.com/spacerace

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Message from the Administrator: Day of Remembrance – Jan. 26, 2012

Letterhead of NASA Administrator

Day of Remembrance – Jan. 26, 2012


This last week of January, as we do every year, the NASA family honors those who have lost their lives carrying out our missions and pays tribute to their lives and memories.


In the face of our greatest accomplishments, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that each time men and women board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of our human achievement.


So on this Day of Remembrance, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who died supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.


As a family, we truly pull together, and our recovery from each of these tragedies has been heartbreaking and inspiring.  I thank all of you for the inspiration you provide to each other and me as we open the next great chapter of exploration.


Today, I lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery for these fallen heroes, and many of you, as in past years, join me in reflection on their lives and the greater purpose we all serve to reach new heights through our actions.  Across the country, all flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at half-mast in memory of our colleagues lost in the cause of exploration.


In memory of our colleagues, I ask all of you in the NASA family once again to always make your opinions known and be unafraid to speak up to those in authority, so that SAFETY CAN ALWAYS BE OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE, and the sacrifices of our friends and colleagues will not be in vain.


We cherish the memories of our lost colleagues and friends and work hard every day to preserve and build on their legacies.  Their lives and work are inspiring each of us every day to carry out the missions of tomorrow and increase our capabilities to do more, learn more, and discover more.  There is no greater tribute we can pay!  Please join me in working to fulfill the dreams of these men and women for the future.


May God’s richest blessings be on the memory of our fallen comrades and on all of us on this solemn day of remembrance!


Charlie B.