Enroll in NES for 2011-2012 School Year

We are just two weeks away from the close of the NASA Explorer Schools 2010-2011 school year. On June 30, the Virtual Campus will close for a two-week summer recess to update the website and add new resources for the coming year. 

At this time, we would like to remind you to enroll for the 2011-2012 school year. The enrollment process will ensure a seamless transition to the next NES school year, granting you continued access to exclusive NASA educational resources and a log of your NES activities from the previous year.

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

We hope you’ll join us for the 2011-2012 school year. Log on and enroll today.  

One Month Left to Re-enroll in NES

NASA Explorer Schools logoOnly one month is left for current NASA Explorer Schools participants to submit their online enrollment forms for the 2011-2012 school year before NES closes for summer recess. You don’t want to miss out on engaging classroom resources from NES, including 20 new classroom modules, student engagement opportunities with NASA scientists and engineers, and exclusive recognition opportunities that NES will offer next year.

NES is asking current participants to complete an enrollment form for next year so that we can maintain an up-to-date record of active project participants. When current participants log on to the Virtual Campus, they will receive a prompt to fill out a brief enrollment form, where they can update their personal, classroom or school information. 

Get ready for another exciting year with the NES project. 

Log on and enroll today.If you have any questions, please contact the NES Help Desk.

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.

NASA Explorer Schools Dare Students to Dream

Students presenting their NASA-based research findingsInspiring the next generation of explorers, scientists, engineers and educators to “dream big” was the goal of this year’s NASA Explorer Schools National Student Symposium at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The symposium kicked off May 4 with a welcome dinner in the company of Bob Cabana, Kennedy’s director and a former space shuttle astronaut. About 60 fourth- through 12th-grade students and their teachers listened in awe as Cabana shared a vivid memory of seeing shuttle Endeavour awaiting liftoff on Launch Pad 39A with a remarkable rainbow overhead. Later that day in December 1998, Cabana and his crew would lift off on the 12-day STS-88 mission to begin construction of the International Space Station. 

“Our very first day in orbit, the wake up music was Judy Garland, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ It brought tears to my eyes,” Cabana said. “Somewhere over the rainbow dreams do come true because that was a dream mission from start to finish.” STS-88 took the first American module called Unity to the station and connected it to the Russian-built Zarya module, beginning the more than 10-year international collaboration and mechanical marvel in space.

The symposium participants were competitively selected after they completed an original investigation focused on existing NASA missions or research interests and presented it to the space agency via the Digital Learning Network. As their reward, they spent four days at the space center touring processing and launch facilities and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, as well as participating in educational activities and a career panel question-and-answer session. They also presented their investigations to fellow students and NASA employees.

“Thank you, NASA, for this great opportunity,” said EmmaLee Beason, a fifth-grader from Oceanair Elementary in Norfolk, Va. 

Beason and her classmate, Iyana Stephenson, came up with their growing yeast in balloons experiment using different temperatures of water investigation after their teacher, Colleen Orman, traveled to Yellowstone National Park and taught them about geysers and organisms that thrive in extreme conditions. They found that the yeast organism preferred moderate temperatures, instead of extreme.

When asked what career field she would like to join when she gets a little older, Beason said an astrobiologist or a chef, or perhaps a chef for astronauts. She said working on this investigation taught her a lot about teamwork.

“Let’s say I become a chef and dinner service is in an hour and I’ve run out of a really important ingredient, I have to be able to trust my partner to run out and get that ingredient to finish the main dish,” Beason said. “And in astrobiology, I may need someone to help analyze data and materials.”

Luis Rabelo, a project manager for NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, was on hand to listen to the students’ presentations and explained the multitude of career paths the space agency offers, including studying Earth’s climate, the sun, the solar system, or galaxies and black holes, as well as designing and launching rockets and capsules that will travel to low Earth orbit and beyond.

“Keep learning,” Rabelo said. “Continuous learning is so important because science is always changing.”

Fifth-graders Nell Curtin and Hazel Thurston from K.W. Barrett Elementary in Arlington, Va., and their classmates developed a sports game for space, called “Save the World,” using Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion for their investigation. The project was awarded the “NASA Sports Challenge” and will be played aboard the International Space Station later this year, with a few modifications. The goal is for astronauts to gather objects and build devices to save the planet, which actually is just a large, soft ball, from incoming meteorites. 

Thurston ended their presentation with a small piece of advice for the space participants: “Play safe.”

Curtin said if she could ask the astronauts questions after they played, they would be, “Who won?” and “What was the most challenging part?”

Alicia Baturoni, a lead education specialist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, asked the adults in attendance to think back to where they were when they were in elementary school.

“You’ve got a great head start,” Baturoni told the students. “I hope you are all really proud of yourselves.”

A day later, career panelist and chemical engineer Annie Caraccio echoed those sentiments.

“When I was in fourth-grade, I think I was only interested in Girl Scouts and playing soccer outside,” Caraccio said. “So congratulations . . . I look forward to seeing you accomplish great things and working with you in the future.”

Baturoni moderated the career panel, which boasted a wide variety of Kennedy employees, from a wildlife ecologist and human resource specialist to a chemist, engineer and contracting officer.

Afterward, the students participated in hands-on educational and skill-building activities. Elementary students built miniature robots using things like toothbrush bristles, wires and a small battery. The high schoolers built speakers using things like copper wire, a foam plate and a magnet. 

As they worked on their speakers, Fernando Zamora-Jimenez and Jakob Ingra, eighth-graders from High Point, N.C., talked about the investigation that brought them to Kennedy. They took cinnamon basil seeds that were flown in space and compared their growth to seeds that remained on Earth. They found that the space-flown seeds grew faster in the beginning, but also died faster. Their conclusion: The space-flown seeds weren’t accustomed to Earth’s climate.

“From this experience, I’ve learned that if you try your hardest, there really are rewards,” said Zamora-Jimenez, who is looking forward to joining the veterinarian or medical field and obtaining a private or commercial pilot’s license.

In the past, the NASA Explorer School Symposium only was open to fifth- through ninth-grade students. Priscilla Moore, an education specialist at Kennedy, explained the reason for opening it up to older students was to deliver NASA educational content to a much broader audience. 

“The NASA Explorer Schools mission is to be the agency’s classroom-based gateway to middle and high school students,” said Moore, “inspiring them to participate in NASA missions and develop their aptitudes in science, technology, engineering and math.” 

Rebecca Regan
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

NES National Student Symposium Showcases Student Research

Students from across the nation will gather at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 4-7 for the NASA Explorer Schools National Student Symposium. Future leaders in science, technology, education and math, or STEM, will present their work to NASA scientists, engineers, fellow students and educators.

The competitively selected group of fourth through 12th-graders consists of 58 students and their teachers. The various student research projects were designed to improve learning and bolster interest in STEM disciplines.

The students were required to complete an original investigation focused on existing NASA missions or research interests. Students presented their work to experts at virtual regional symposia held January through March at NASA centers using the agency’s Digital Learning Network.

In addition to presenting their work at the national symposium, participants also will learn more about NASA’s research activities and exploration missions. Students will tour a variety of operational facilities at Kennedy, including the space shuttle launch complex, and participate in a webcase of a career panel featuring NASA scientists, engineers and specialists.

Congratulations to the students and schools attending the National Student Symposium:

School Name



Orleans Elementary School


Hot Air Balloon

Forest Heights Elementary School


When They Build It, We Will Come

Forest Lake Elementary Technology Magnet School


Hand Sanitizer-Friend or Foe?

Franke Park Elementary School


The Insulation Properties of Snow

Johnson Magnet for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics


NASA Lunar Plant Growth Chamber

Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School


Save the Earth

Kenneth J Carberry Intermediate School


Growing Crystals

Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School


It’s Just Right

Oceanair Elementary School


What is the Effect of Temperature on the Survival Rate of Yeast?




Harding Middle School


Testing the Effects of Altering Viscosities of Nutritions Supplements

Hobgood Elementary School


One if By Sea, Two if By Land

Lebanon Middle School


Growing plants on the Moon

Northeast Nodaway R-V


The Effect of the Number of Straws on the Distance the Rocket  Racer Travels

Dr. Albert Einstein Academy


Lunar Plant Growth Chamber

Edward Harris Jr. Middle School


Dirty, Stinky Water

Ellen Ochoa Learning Center


Moldilocks and the FunGuy (Fungi)

Island City Research Academy


Life on the Moon

Broughal Middle School


Quasar or Black Hole

Ferndale Middle School


Planting the Future

Hudson Middle School


Water Filtration Challenge

Johnston Middle School


Microbes in Space

Key Peninsula Middle School


Waste Water Recycling System

Shelburne Community School


NASA On Target Challenge

Two Rivers Magnet Middle School


Life on Europa

Middle School at Parkside

7, 8

Mission to Phoebe




Albertville High School


Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration 

Central Florida Aerospace Academy of Kathleen High School


The Effect of Sodiium Hypochlorite on the Efficiencies of Carbon Filters

Covenant Christian High School


Parabolar in Sapce and Time

Newnan High School


Lunar Surface Instrumentation

NES Gearing Up for the 2011-2012 School Year

NASA Explorer Schools will begin re-enrollment for the upcoming school year beginning on May 2. By re-enrolling, you will have continued access to engaging and exciting classroom materials from NES, including 20 new product modules for 2011-2012, and a fresh collection of NASA Now and live chat events planned for the coming school year.

When current registered participants log on to the Virtual Campus after May 2, a pop-up window will appear.

Learn more about enrolling in NES for the 2011-2012 school year!

High School Students of Registered NES Teachers Invited to Submit Questions to Nobel Prize Winner

This is anexclusive invitation just for participating NASA Explorer Schools high schoolteachers.

Dr. John C. Mather

Are your students boggled by the big bang theory? Are they captivated by cosmic background radiation? Are they fascinated by the formation of planets, stars and galaxies? Then May’s NES online video chat is their chance to have their questions answered. Dr. John C. Mather, Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope and 2006 Nobel Prize winner in physics for his work on the big bang theory, will be answering student questions during a live video chat.

Thehour-long chat will be on Tuesday, May 17, beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Teachersare invited to send up to 10 student questions to Mather through either digitalvideo or email. Video questions will be given priority.

Submitting a Question (The deadlinefor submitting questions is May 1):

 Allquestions must include:

  1. The student’s FIRST NAME only
  2. Grade/subject
  3. School name
  4. The question

For example, “My name is Sara and I’m a 10th-grade astronomystudent at Johnson High School. My question is…”

Video questions:

  1. Request a blank media release form from nasa-explorer-schools@mail.nasa.gov. A completed NES media release form must be submitted for each student featured in a video. Media release forms must be faxed to 216-433-5924 or scanned and sent to nasa-explorer-schools@mail.nasa.gov with the subject “Media Release for Dr. Mather Chat.”
  2. One student question per file and 10 questions per teacher may be submitted.
  3. To improve the chances of your video being selected, review the “Camera Techniques” list at the bottom of this message.
  4. All submitted video files will be destroyed at the conclusion of the video chat. Questions asked during the chat will be part of the video archive, which will be available on the NES Virtual Campus website.

Email questions: Student questions may be sent bythe teacher to nasa-explorer-schools@mail.nasa.gov, with the subject, “Dr.Mather Chat.” Teachers may submit up to 10 student questions as text in thebody of a single email and only one email per teacher can be accepted.

Onlyquestions following these guidelines will be considered. Selected questionswill be included in the May 17 chat with Dr. Mather.

Watchthe video chat at on the Virtual Campus.

Camera Techniques for StudentQuestions:

  1. Be sure your camera is set to the highest quality video settings.
  2. Position the camera on a tripod at eye level with the student.
  3. Only the student asking the question should be seen in the video.
  4. Record in a well-lit area, with no bright lights or windows visible in the picture behind the student.
  5. The student should be at least six feet from a wall or background.
  6. The student should be no more than four feet from the camera.
  7. Frame the student from waist up or mid-chest up.
  8. Record in an area free from loud noises or HVAC units.
  9. If possible, for best audio quality, use an external hand-held or lavaliere microphone.
  10. When recording, make sure the student speaks clearly in a full voice and doesn’t rush through the question.
  11. Contact nasa-explorer-schools@mail.nasa.gov for uploading instructions.

 Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Educators Can Earn CEUs for Participating in NES Live e-PD

Oklahoma State University logoNASA Explorer Schools, in cooperation with Oklahoma State University, is pleased to announce the opportunity for registered NES educators to earn Continuing Education Units for participation in live NES electronic professional development sessions! Educators who fully participate in seven live e-PDs and complete the evaluation survey on the Virtual Campus for each live e-PD will earn one CEU. Those completing fourteen live e-PDs and surveys will earn two CEUs.
Live e-PDs must be completed between Sept. 14, 2010-May 25, 2011. CEU eligibility will be evaluated in June 2011, and CEU certificates will be issued midsummer.
Visit the e-PD schedule on the NES Virtual Campus for dates and times of remaining live e-PD sessions and links to register for sessions.

E-mail any questions to the NES Help Desk or call the NES helpline.

Fill-out and submit the application for CEUs.

Tomorrow: Live Video Chat – Aquarius Habitat — Analog to the International Space Station

NASA Explorer Schools invites students in grades K-12 from across the U.S. and Department of Defense schools to participate in a live video chat with NASA engineer aquanaut Tara Ruttley. The event will take place on March 15, 2011, at 1 p.m. EDT. Students and teachers can submit questions to Dr. Ruttley during this hour-long chat. Ruttley will answer questions about participating in the NEEMO 6 project and her career as an engineer aquanaut and Associate International Space Station Program Scientist.

Go to the chat page on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website to participate in the webchat. You’ll find background information about Ruttley and links to NEEMO. You do not need to be a participant of the NASA Explorer Schools project to join the chat. To learn more about NES, visit the explorerschools.nasa.gov website and click on the What Is NES? video or the About NES link.