Stay 'Up All Night' to Watch the Perseids

Escape the heat of the waning days of summer for an evening of sky watching. The Perseid meteor shower peaks on the night of August 11 through the morning of August 12. Perseid rates can get as high as 100 per hour, with many fireballs visible in the night sky. A waning crescent moon will interfere slightly with this year’s show, but viewing should definitely be worth a look!

Cloud covering the night sky in your area? Not a problem. On the night of Aug. 11-12, astronomer Bill Cooke and his team from the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will answer your questions about the 2012 Perseid meteor shower via an “Up All Night” live chat. To join the chat, simply head over to this page and log in. The chat experts will be available to answer questions between the hours of 11 p.m. – 3 a.m. EDT, beginning the evening of Aug. 11 and continuing into the morning of Aug. 12.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

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.

Expedition 31 and 32 In-flight Education Downlink Opportunity

NASA is seeking formal and informal educational organizations, individually or working together, to host a live, in-flight education downlink during Expeditions 31 and 32 (approximately from March 2012 to September 2012). To maximize these downlink opportunities, NASA is looking for organizations that will draw large numbers of participants and integrate the downlink into a well-developed education plan. 

The deadline to submit a proposal is Dec. 21, 2011.

A high school student interviews crew members on the International Space StationDuring Expeditions 31 and 32, crew members aboard the International Space Station will participate in downlinks. Downlinks are approximately 20 minutes in length and allow students and educators to interact with astronauts through a question and answer session. Downlinks afford education audiences the opportunity to learn firsthand from astronauts what it is like to live and work in space. Downlinks are broadcast live on NASA TV and are streamed on the NASA website. Because of the nature of human spaceflight, organizations must demonstrate the flexibility to accommodate changes in downlink dates and times.

Interested organizations should contact Teaching From Space, a NASA Education office, to obtain information related to expectations, format, audience, guidelines and forms by sending an email to or calling 281-244-7608.

Amazing Mazes Celebrate NASA Achievements

Sample Space Farm 7 mazeIn a special outreach titled Space Farm 7, seven of the nation’s top agritourism farms have been selected to celebrate and honor the U.S. space program in collaboration with NASA this fall. Each farm has planted corn mazes that will feature designs celebrating NASA’s achievements and progress in space. An increasingly popular phenomenon of crop circle-type creations, each of the seven corn mazes will open this fall to challenge and delight visitors.

The objective of this outreach project is to expose guests to NASA space exploration and educate children across the United States. The celebration is very timely because this year NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first American in space, the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle mission, and the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s deployment in space. 

Games and activities in the mazes will reinforce the educational missions of the space program so maze-goers can learn and have fun at the same time. Other activities proposed for the farms include traveling space displays, NASA-sponsored activities, and online educational materials. The group also is working together to schedule astronaut visits and to host a national contest where winners earn a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the chance to dine with an astronaut. Visit and vote on their favorite of the seven maze designs. A winner will be selected randomly at the end of October.

Participating farms include Belvedere Plantation in Fredericksburg, Va.; Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, N.Y.; The Rock Ranch in Rock, Ga.; Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Neb.; Dewberry Farm in Brookshire, Texas; Cornbelly’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Fest in Lehi, Utah; and Dell’Osso Family Farm in Lathrop, Calif. All are associated with The MAiZE Inc., the world’s largest maze design company.

To see pictures of the mazes and for more information, visit

Science Discovery Night at K.W. Barrett Elementary School

Recently, NASA Explorer Schools educator Allyson Green and the staff at K.W. Barrett Elementary School hosted their annual Science Discovery Night. The event was an open house format in their gym featuring nine science activities including telescopes, reptiles, invention convention, a videoconference with NASA, viewing student projects, LEGO Mindstorm demos, Spaced Out Sports NASA Challenge demos, and the most popular — building with LEGOS. Green and her coworkers promoted the event through their internal television system, talking with parents, sending home student-made invitations, and holding mini science fair classes for parents who do not speak English as their first language. Over 60 percent of the entire student body attended.

The evening was organized with a passport format. Students and parents used a passport to visit each area, getting a stamp after participating in the activity. After all nine stamps were collected, students picked a NASA-related prize.

Science Discovery Night was a very successful event. Feedback from parents, students and staff was very positive. 

Story Postscript: Barrett found out on Wednesday, March 30, that their NASA Spaced Out Sports Challenge team came in first place. They had a diverse team of fifth-grade students working on a game called “Save The Earth.” The game was based on Newton’s Three Laws of Motion and was formulated with the Engineering Design Process. Congratulations to all involved!

May 6: Meteors from Halley's Comet

Mark your calendar. On May 6th, Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley’s comet, producing a mild but beautiful meteor shower known as the “eta Aquarids.”

Family Night: Star and Reading Party

About three hundred people attended the annual Star and Reading Party held by NASA Explorer Schools educator Donna Rand and the staff at East Hartford-Glastonbury Elementary Magnet School.

Astronomical Society of New Haven logoStudents and their families explored a variety of science stations. They looked through large telescopes set up by members of the Greater New Haven Astronomical Society; viewed lunar craters and the moons of Jupiter; and learned about constellations by viewing a planetarium show inside a portable planetarium. 

Teachers set up reading centers in classrooms where families read together to find out more about a variety of space science topics including our solar system, spaceflight, beyond our galaxy, and ancient myths and legends about the sun and moon. Families used NASA websites to discover which space objects are “Near and Far” and how to locate the International Space Station for viewing in their backyards.

For additional information, read the Family Star and Reading Party article in NEON.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Family Night: Involve Parents in Student Projects

NASA Explorer Schools educator Colleen Orman from Norfolk Public Schools has some ideas for ways to kick off science fair projects by incorporating the investigation process during the school’s family nights sessions.

Parents and students were guided through the complete experimental design process in a hands-on manner. Students created a straw hoop plane and tested to see if the placement of the hoops affected the distance the plane would fly. Besides having a great deal of fun, both parents and students learned about the steps to create a successful science fair investigation.

The activity was an investigational process, which reinforces NES materials. She has used various flight-related investigations to support previous family night events. 

Orman continues to focus on flight activities to enhance her program’s NASA connection. She says, “Our parents appreciate learning about investigations so they can help their children.”

What a great way to involve parents in their student’s learning! Colleen has logged this entry in the Virtual Campus and is now one step closer to participating in the NES Recognition Program!

Egg Drop-An Idea for a Family Night Event

The lesson from the NASA Explorer Schools module Lunar Nautics: Lunar Base Supply Egg Drop makes a great family night activity. Students and their parents design and construct a package for the raw egg payload. The package should allow the raw egg payload to be recovered unharmed (both the shell and yolk should be intact) when dropped from a second story (height of at least 9.144 meters).

Ask the local fire department to bring a ladder and drop the eggs from the ladder.