Education Innovation — Google Science Fair

Google science fair logoOn Jan. 11, 2011, Google launched the inaugural Google Science Fair. Google has partnered with CERN, National Geographic, Scientific American and the LEGO Group to create this new STEM competition. This is a global competition open to any student aged 13-18, and students may enter as individuals or as teams of up to three. There is no entry fee. Registrations and submissions will be made online. The Science Fair will culminate in a celebratory event at Google headquarters in California in July 2011, where finalists will compete for internships, scholarships and prizes in front of a panel of celebrity scientist judges, including Nobel Laureates and household names.

Submissions are due by April 4, 2011. To sign up for free resource kits for your classroom or school, please visit the Global Science fair website.

Dining on the International Space Station

Commander Scott Kelly preparing dinner on the International Space StationOne of the most frequently asked questions of astronauts is about how and what they eat while in space. Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly recently made an informative video aboard the space station showing the food and beverage area, how food is prepared, menu options, and how they eat.
Think about dehydrated beef stew, asparagus (it floated away during filming) and lemonade! Yum!

Geography Trivia From Space

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, Expedition 26 commander, uses a still camera to photograph the topography of a point on Earth from a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station.Have you ever wondered what various geographic locations on Earth would look like from space? 

Commander Scott Kelly is living aboard the International Space Station for nearly six months for Expeditions 25 and 26. During this time, he will be capturing images of Earth for scientific observation. Through these snapshots, Commander Kelly will share his view from space and engage the public by a virtual journey around the world via a geography trivia game on Twitter.

Astronomy Night at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy

School's Star Party bannerOn the clear autumn night of Nov. 19, approximately 250 students and parents at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy, School #29, circulated among four activity stations relating to astronomy. The stations included telescope viewings of the moon, Jupiter and its moons, a virtual night sky tour in the planetarium, and two learning activity tables.
At the end of the evening, the night’s success was evident by the large number of parents and children who lingered, reluctant to leave. In fact, several parents asked when the next Astronomy Night is scheduled.

To learn more about how NASA Explorer Schools educator Tracy Espiritu and the teachers at the academy pulled off this successful astronomy night, read the Astronomy Night at School 29 post in the Ideas for family night events post in the ~Other NASA-related Activities I’ve Done forum in NEON.

Document Your Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Investigation With a Stop-Action Camera

PlantCamWouldn’t it be great to have a stop-action camera that could document the growth of your students’ plants in the NASA Explorer Schools module, Lunar Plant Growth Chamber? What might be other possible classroom uses for such a camera?

Head over to a blog by the National Science Teachers Association, a NES partner, and read about innovative ways to use a stop-action camera in the classroom. There’s even a link to an opportunity to win a BirdCam or PlantCam. The deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2011.

Discovery of Arsenic Microbe Announced at News Conference

NASA-supported researchers have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism, which lives in California’s Mono Lake, substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in the backbone of its DNA and other cellular components.

“The definition of life has just expanded,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s A microscopic image of GFAJ-1 grown on arsenicHeadquarters in Washington. “As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.”

The results of this study will inform ongoing research in many areas, including the study of Earth’s evolution, organic chemistry, biogeochemical cycles, disease mitigation and Earth system research. These findings also will open up new frontiers in microbiology and other areas of research.

“The idea of alternative biochemistries for life is common in science fiction,” said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Until now a life form using arsenic as a building block was only theoretical, but now we know such life exists in Mono Lake.”

Excerpt from Science @ NASA

Link to a large image.

DLiNFocus: NASA Careers ‘What’s in Your Future?’ Special Event Series

Students and teachers have an opportunity to learn about the wide variety of career choices at NASA — astronauts aren’t the only folks who work at NASA! NASA employees representing various projects and missions will be in the Digital Learning Network studios for a series of webcasts focusing on careers. They will share their academic experiences from elementary school through college and talk about what motivated them to pursue their careers.

 Each event will be webcast to allow students from all over the world to watch the interviews. Any student can interact by sending questions via e-mail.

The schedule of events through December is:

 — Dec. 1: Marshall Space Flight Center featuring Tristan Curry — Aerospace Engineer. 
 — Dec. 8: Dryden Flight Research Center featuring Kathleen Stanton — Nurse.
 — Dec. 15: Glenn Research Center featuring Mike Foreman — former astronaut and current Chief of External Programs at GRC. 

Each hour-long webcast event begins at 2 p.m. EST.

Sign up today to become a part of this exciting opportunity to meet NASA employees live!

For more information, visit the DLN website at and click the Special Events button.

Inquiries about the DLiNFocus series should be directed to Caryn Long.

Astronomy Picture (or video) of the Day

Flowing auroras over village in NorwayEach day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

Start each day or class period with an inspirational Astronomy Picture of the Day. Have it displayed on your classroom television so students see it as they enter your classroom.

Start off by showing your students spectacular video of an auroras over Norway, go to the Nov. 24, 2010 picture (or in this case, video) of the day.

Operation IceBridge Web Chat with Project Scientists

Sun setting over the Antarctic

On Thursday, Nov. 18, IceBridge scientists will be on hand from the field to answer your questions about the mission. Joining the chat is easy. Simply visit this page on Thursday, Nov. 18, from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. The chat window will open at the bottom of this page starting at 12:30 p.m. EST. You can log in and be ready to ask questions at 1 p.m. The time and date is subject to change due to changes in the flight schedule to meet requirements for good weather over science targets.

Link to the IceBridge Mission page.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.

NASA Now — Path of an Astronaut

NASA Now logoDuring this unique episode of NASA Now, astronaut and veteran spacewalker Mike Foreman describes his experiences from liftoff to living and working in space. He was selected to be an astronaut in 1998. He flew on space shuttle Endeavour in March 2008, and he returned to the station on space shuttle Atlantis in November 2009. Foreman has logged over 637 hours in space, with over 32 of those hours in a spacesuit during five spacewalks.

Watch this episode of NASA Now beginning on Nov. 3 by visiting the NES Virtual Campus website.