NES Educators Selected to Attend the 2013 Honeywell

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.

Tuskegee Airmen DLN Opportunity

Tuskegee AirmenConnect with NASA’s Digital Learning Network, and let your students explore history and science with NASA and Tuskegee. On Feb. 20, from 2-3 p.m. EST, your students will have a chance to discuss the early frontiers of aviation with a contrail scientist and a pilot who is president of the Howard Baugh Chapter-Tuskegee in Petersburg, Va.

Classes will be selected to participate in this live event by Feb. 11, 2013.

Spots are limited. Email Bonnie Murray if you are interested in having your students participate.

For more information about this event, visit the Digital Learning Network website.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.

NES Teachers Receive National Educator Achievement Award

Congratulations to two NASA Explorer Schools educators, Lanena Berry from the Houston Independent School District, in Houston, Texas, and Joan Labay-Marquez from Curington Elementary School in Boerne, Texas, who are two of seven recipients of the 2013 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation Educator Achievement Award.

The AIAA Foundation presents the Educator Achievement Awards every two years to classroom teachers who have demonstrated exemplary efforts in exciting students in grades K–12 about the study of mathematics, science and related technical studies, and in preparing them to use and contribute to tomorrow’s technologies.

AIAA Executive Director and former NASA astronaut Sandra H. Magnus stated: “The seven educators selected to receive the 2013 AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Award are a testament to how love of a subject coupled with inspiring teaching helps build the next generation of aerospace engineers and scientists. All it takes is a single spark, lit by an engaging teacher, to ignite the curiosity and interest of a student about the wonder and creativity resident in the world of science and engineering.”

Each winner will receive a trip to Washington, D.C., and will be honored at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala on May 8, 2013.

The AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Award has been presented to over 52 educators since 1997 and has become a sought-after honor in the education community.

For more information on the AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Award, please contact Lisa Bacon or call 703-264-7527.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.

NASA Friday at Skiatook High School

NES educator Michael Lewis says things are really “taking off” in his technology class at Skiatook High School in Oklahoma. Every Friday is “NASA Friday.” On those days, Lewis will be using a variety of student lessons and activities provided by NASA and NASA Explorer Schools. His students will study, research and create various technology experiments in the same way scientists at NASA do. Students will use critical thinking, analysis, observation, experimentation and communication to solve the same kinds of problems astronauts and those in the aerospace industry face every day.

This school year, Lewis’ students have already made remote-launching vehicles. This activity helped them better understand the challenges NASA faced in launching and landing the scientific rover Curiosity, which landed on the planet Mars in August. The class also has discussed the tensile strength of various metals and organic products when under pressure. The students then divided into different teams to see which group could build the tallest structure using a common set of construction materials, spaghetti and marshmallows. One team built a 106.7-cm tall structure based on the triangle shape!

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

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.

Students Apply Engineering Design Process to Construction of a Robotic Hand

NASA Explorer Schools educator Joan Labay-Marquez from Curington Elementary had her fourth-grade students construct a robotlike hand out of cardboard to apply what they have learned about the engineering design process. This activity fit the school district’s curriculum of teaching about inventors, inventions and the engineering design process.

As an extension activity, the students will design and build a “mock” wing of the International Space Station laboratory in their classroom. To demonstrate what they have learned about the engineering design process and how NASA uses robotics in space, the students will include a model robotic hand in the lab.

Watch the video of NASA’s Robonaut at

Find the hand activity at

For more exciting engineering design challenges, visit the Lesson Library on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website.

Robonaut2 Demonstrates Hand Dexterity

 Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Visit NASA Explorer Schools at the 2012 NSTA Conference

NSTA Conference logoIf you are attending the 2012 National Science Teachers Association National Conference on Science Education in Indianapolis on March 29 through April 1, be sure to stop by NASA’s exhibit booth #2159 in the exhibit hall. NASA Explorer Schools, or NES, representatives will be there to share information and answer your questions.

If you are not yet a participant in the NES project, you can obtain detailed information about NES by visiting the booth or attending a NES presentation. The session, “Teach STEM? NASA Explorer Schools Can Help!”, takes place on Friday, March 30, from 11 a.m. – noon in the Cabinet Room of the Westin Indianapolis.

Everyone is invited to attend any of the additional NES lesson-related sessions:
  •  The “Virtual Lab and NASA Explorer Schools” session on Fri., Mar. 30, from 4 – 4:45 p.m. in room 142 of the Convention Center.
  •  The “NASA Engineering Design Challenge: Thermal Protection System” session on Sat., Mar. 31, from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., in room 111/112 of the Convention Center.

Attend one of these presentations and see how NES helps teachers by packaging everything needed to deliver an exciting NASA-related lesson to students!

Rovers, Rovers, Everywhere

Artist concept of Curiosity rover on surface of MarsMelody Shaw gave 700 fourth- and fifth-grade students an opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of NASA engineers. Shaw is a science lab teacher at Grenada Upper Elementary School in Grenada, Miss.

After learning about rovers and NASA’s newest robotic rover, Curiosity, Shaw’s students had a chance to build their own. Using resources from NASA’s On the Moon Educator Guide, students completed the challenge “Roving on the Moon,” where they designed, built and tested their very own lunar rovers. Shaw noted that this activity covered several areas of the state-required science and mathematics curriculum and that the testing and redesign steps required her students to think like engineers.

One exciting part of the experience was the community support and family involvement during the lesson. A Grenada business donated two large rolls of corrugated cardboard and straws, which made it possible for all 700 students to design and make their own rovers. After hearing about the activity, some parents requested to help out by cutting the cardboard into squares for each student. Many students said building the project was their favorite activity of the year, and it turned out to be a successful, exciting event for everyone involved.

Cris Dewolf Shares Activity from NASA Explorer Schools Summer Opportunity

Eight NASA Explorer Schools educators attended the Solar System Inside and Out research experience at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., during July 2011. The workshop prepared the attendees to implement a variety of activities introduced during their research experience.

Cris Dewolf, an NES educator from Michigan, took the experience a step further and shared the LED “secret message” activity at a workshop at Yerkes Observatory and at the Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association Fall Conference.

To become eligible for one of these NASA Explorer Schools research experiences, be sure to complete the surveys associated with resources you are using on the Virtual Campus!

Roosevelt Middle School Holds Annual Rocket Extravaganza

The Sixth Annual Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School’s Rocket Extravaganza Day was conducted this fall. The primary attraction was the launching of the model rockets built during the previous week by all sixth-graders. The launch site was set up so 14 rockets could be launched simultaneously. This was an impressive sight to behold! 

The budding scientists designed and built balsa wood Crew Exploration Vehicles, each carrying four paint ball “astronauts.” The rocket-powered CEVs were launched along a line running straight into a wall. Some paintball astronauts survived intact; others were a bit messy but very colorful! The day’s festivities included eight other activity stations, which were hosted by staff and students from the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Dubuque and local waste management. Nearly 100 parents, community members and media personnel attended and had a great time. For more great rocketry activities, check out the NES Lesson: Center of Mass and Center of Pressure: Engineering a Stable Rocket. 

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.