Giant-sized Webb Space Telescope Model to 'Land' in Baltimore

James Webb Space Telescope in GermanyBaltimore’s Maryland Science Center is going to be the “landing site” for the full-scale model of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, and it’s free for all to see. 

The life-sized model of the Webb telescope is as big as a tennis court, and it’s coming to the Maryland Science Center at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from Oct. 14-26, 2011. It’s a chance for young and old to get a close-up look at the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope in the same size it will be launched into space.

On May 17, NASA Explorer Schools hosted a live interactive video webchat with Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather. Mather, Senior Project Scientist for James Webb Space Telescope, answered questions from students across the country. To watch a video archive of the chat, visit

To read more about this amazing opportunity to see a full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope, visit

NASA Announces two National Student Science Competitions

a dimeNASA is offering students the opportunity to compete in two microgravity challenges: “Dropping In a Microgravity Environment,” or DIME, and “What If No Gravity?” or WING.

DIME is a team competition for high school students in the ninth through 12th grades. WING is a competition for student teams from the fifth through eighth grades. Both are project-oriented activities that last throughout the school year for the selected teams.

DIME and WING are open to student teams from all 50 states, Washington, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each team must have an adult supervisor, such as a teacher, parent or technical consultant. Teams may be from any type of organization or club, such as a science class, a group of friends, a scout troop or youth group.

Proposals are due by Nov. 1. A panel of NASA scientists and engineers will evaluate and select the top-ranked proposals by Dec. 1. The winning teams will design and build the experiments that will be conducted in the 2.2-Second Drop Tower at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

The 79-foot tower gets its name because when an experiment is “dropped” into it, the package experiences weightlessness, or microgravity, for 2.2 seconds. Researchers from around the world use this tower to study the effects of microgravity on physical phenomena, such as combustion and fluid dynamics, and to develop new technology for future space missions.

The top four DIME teams will receive an expense-paid trip to Glenn in March 2012 to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA personnel and tour the center’s facilities. All DIME participants visiting NASA must be U.S. citizens.

Four additional DIME teams, and up to 30 WING teams, will be selected to build their experiments and ship them to Glenn for NASA testing. These experiments and the resulting data will be returned to the teams, so they can prepare reports about their findings.

If you have questions or are looking for more information about entering DIME and WING student team competitions, visit

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.

NASA Earth Ambassador Training Program

NASA Explorer Schools educators, as well as other formal and information educators, are invited to apply to the Earth Ambassador Program, part of NASA Climate Days. The program will hold a two-day training workshop at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., Oct. 13-14, 2011, with extended training on Oct. 15, for those not attending the Association of Science – Technology Centers Conference.

During the workshop, participants will interact with Earth scientists who are looking at the effect of climate change with respect to their research areas, learn effective ways of communicating global climate change with the public and become familiar with the online resources available to host their own events at their local institutions. 

Transportation, lodging and meal per diem will be covered.
Applications are due Aug. 17, 2011.

For more information and to apply online, visit

If you have any questions about this opportunity, e-mail Heather Weir.

NES Teachers Participate in Summer Research Experiences

Each summer, NASA Explorer Schools recognizes outstanding NES educators by providing an opportunity to attend an all-expense-paid, three- to five-day research experience. This summer, NES is hosting four research experiences.

On July 11, selected educators begin a week-long NASA Coastal Ocean Research Opportunity. Teachers become familiar with the science and research techniques used by NASA to study the coastal oceans, ocean color and Earth’s biosphere from space. They conduct research aboard research vessels and learn to use some of the same techniques used by NASA scientists.

The theme of the Solar System – Inside and Out summer experience is what is happening within our solar system and beyond. During this two-day professional development experience participants learn about our solar system, exoplanets, and the Hubble Space Telescope’s contributions to the study of these new worlds orbiting other stars. This workshop features science content presentations and hands- on activities that use real-world astronomical data and the Hubble Legacy Archive to bring the wonders of the universe to students. These activities can be implemented in the classroom to encourage students to generate relevant and meaningful research questions and search for new insights about the solar system. The “Solar System — Inside and Out” workshop will be held July 20-21, 2011, at the Space Telescope Science Institute, located on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus in Baltimore, Md.

July 20 marks the first day of a four-day Water Filtration Research experience supporting the NES Engineering Design Challenge of the same name. Participants learn how NASA recycles water on the International Space System and about hydroponics and plant growth, as well as how a national park studies water.

A selected group of NES educators travel to the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope facility for a week-long research experience beginning on July 18. The GAVRT project uses a series of dedicated 34 meter (112 foot) radio telescopes at NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex connected to classrooms via the Internet. Teachers acquire the curricular, operational and scientific knowledge to implement GAVRT within the classroom with cross-curricular lessons. Participants learn how to use the software. They are given access to the telescope for student use during the school year. 

The final NES summer research experience, Forces and Motion, begins on August 1 and targets teachers of middle school students. Selected educators perform their own research on the properties of objects in a microgravity environment and then go through a design process to create and build a research experiment. The experience then culminates with testing the experiment in a NASA drop tower.

If you’d like to be eligible to participate in a NASA research experience next summer, become an NES participant by completing the registration form on the NES Virtual Campus.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

NASA Education and the Space Shuttle

Shuttle program commemorative patch

What is one of the marvels of all time and inspiration to students around the globe? What has created unforgettable memories for anyone who has seen it in person? It is the mighty space shuttle. It began as a dream but became the platform on which educators have inspired students around the world to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 
The first space shuttle flew in 1981.
Including the STS-135 mission, the total number of space shuttle launches is 135.
        • Five space shuttles have flown: Columbia, Discovery, Challenger, Endeavour and Atlantis.
        • The space shuttle system is made up of the orbiter, two solid rocket boosters and the external tank.
        • The orbiter travels in space at 17,500 miles per hour.

    NES Teachers Attend WRATS

    Launch of sounding rocketOn June 20-24, 2011, 20 educators participated in the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students, or WRATS, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, located at Wallops Island, Virginia. Of the 20 participants, 10 were NASA Explorer Schools educators who have been recognized for their best practices in using the Rockets Educator Guide content module on the NES Virtual Campus. 

    The educators toured Wallops Flight Facility, built rockets, launched them and analyzed the launch data. They also interacted with university students attending the NASA hosted RockOn! University Rocket Science Workshop and got an inside look at the students’ experiments. The highlight of the week was the launch of the Terrier-Improved Orion Sounding Rocket on June 23. 

    Michelle Harrison
    Michelle Harrison (shown in the picture to the right), NES participant from Holly Grove Christian School, commented on how the WRATS workshop gave her the confidence to use the Rockets Educator Guide content module in her classroom. 

    To see more pictures from WRATS, check NES on facebook.

    To use the Rockets Educator Guide with your students this fall, sign-up to be a participant in the NASA Explorer Schools project.

    Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

    NASA Summer of Innovation Mini Grants – Second Opportunity

    The NASA Office of Education is offering a second opportunity for Summer of Innovation, or SoI, Mini-Grants in partnership with the National Space Grant Foundation. The mini-grant aspect of the SoI enables local organizations to infuse NASA-themed science, technology, engineering and mathematics content and activities to middle school students through existing summer and/or afterschool programs. 
    Organizations are eligible to apply for up to $2,500 in funding to incorporate SoI content and themes into their programming.

    The application deadline is June 17, 2011 with an anticipated award announcement date of July 1, 2011.  
    For eligibility, timeline and application information, please see the SoI Mini-Grant page on the Space Grant Foundation web site.
    Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions or for more information about this exciting opportunity here.

    The SoI Mini- Grant Program anticipates making approximately 200 awards during the 2011 fiscal year.

    NASA Explorer Schools Enrollment for the 2011-2012 Year is Now Open!

    NASA Explorer SchoolsIf you are an NES participant in the 2010-2011 school year, you can now register for the upcoming school year. When logging onto the Virtual Campus, you will receive a prompt to fill out a brief enrollment form where you can make updates to personal, classroom or school information.

    Fill out this form. Click “submit,” and you’ll have full access to exciting NES educational resources to bring your 2011-2012 STEM classroom curriculum alive.

    If you have any questions regarding the enrollment process or the 2011-2012 NES school year, contact the Help Desk.

    We hope you’ll join us for the next school year. Log on and enroll today!

    Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

    Register for GRAIL MoonKAM

    images of moon's surfaceIn fall 2011, NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission is scheduled to launch twin spacecraft in tandem low-altitude orbits around the moon. The spacecraft will measure the moon’s gravity in unprecedented detail. The mission will answer key questions about the moon’s internal structure and give scientists a better understanding of how our solar system formed. 

    The satellites will carry special cameras, dubbed MoonKam, which stands for Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students. During the science phase of the mission, students will send in requests for the cameras to take photos of specific areas on the lunar surface. The images will be posted on the Internet, and students can refer to them as they study highlands, maria and other features of the moon’s topography.

    Register at the GRAIL MoonKam website to receive information and resources about this unique opportunity and stay up-to-date with GRAIL MoonKAM news and events.