Space Station Experiments Proposed by Two NES Schools Selected for the Kids in Micro-g! Challenge

Key Peninsula Middle School and Potlatch Elementary School have experiments that were selected to be conducted this spring in the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station. Both schools are participating in the NASA Explorer Schools project.

Key Peninsula Middle School in Lakebay, Wash., proposed an experiment, “Pondering the Pendulum.” Their experiment will examine the effects of microgravity on a pendulum.

Potlatch Elementary in Potlatch, Idaho, will be testing, “Pepper Oil Surprise.” It’s an experiment to determine if the buoyancy of an object is affected in a microgravity environment.

This activity reinforces the use of technology to facilitate student collaboration in the use of NES materials and NASA opportunities. These teachers are well on their way to earning NES recognition.

Click here for information about the NES Recognition Opportunities.

Click here for information about the Kids in Micro-g! challenge.

NASA Now-Glory Launch

NASA Now logo

In this episode of NASA Now, Dr. Hal Maring joins us to explain why the upcoming launch of the Glory satellite is so important to further our understanding of climate change. He also will speak on the dual purposes of the Glory mission and dispel some misconceptions about climate change and global warming.

Over the past several decades, environmental awareness has become one of our most prevalent issues. As Earth’s climate change becomes more rapid, the need to understand the causes and implications of this change becomes more urgent. Many theories exist connecting solar irradiation, aerosols and greenhouse gases to global climate change. While we know a lot about atmospheric greenhouse gases, there is still much to understand about their long-term effect on climate and other factors that may affect change.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

NASA Now Preview Video

NASA Now-Shuttle Engineering Design Challenge–Guidance, Navigation and Flight Control

In this installment of NASA Now, you’ll meet Guidance, Navigation and Flight Controls engineer George Hatcher, who talks about the complex system needed to fly the space shuttle at extreme speeds and in extreme environments. Learn about the instruments used to inform the shuttle of its location, how to get where it wants to go, and what to do to change direction. The program focuses on the technology and physics of this complex spacecraft.

Link to this episode of NASA Now (requires log-in credentials).

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.

NASA Now Promotion Video

(Click on the video window below and then press your spacebar to start/stop the video.)

Balloonsat High Altitude Flight Student Competition

Balloon Sat LogoThe BHALF competition is open to teams of four or more students in grades 9 to 12 from high schools and community groups throughout the United States, District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Teams develop a flight experiment or technology demonstration and submit a proposal for consideration by a panel of NASA scientists and engineers. The panel will select eight teams to design and construct their project for competition. The eight projects will be sent to the near space environment of the stratosphere, or nearly 100,000 feet (~ 50.5 km) above Earth, during several NASA weather balloon launches in Northeastern, Ohio.Proposals are due February 11, 2011. 

For more information, check out the BHALF website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.

Potlatch Students Recycle Water for the Moon!

Are you looking for a classroom project that helps students learn about water purification as they work in groups? Like NES educator Laura Wommack, you should check out the Water Limitation Management Water Recycling activity, an extension of the Engineering Design Challenge, Water Filtration.

Laura Wommack, NES educator at Potlatch Junior-Senior High School, completed the Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Design Challenge with her eighth-grade students. This NASA project challenges students build a water purification system that could be used on the moon. Learn how she used this contest to motivate her students. 

Read about Wommack’s experiences in the NES NEON forum, Engineering Design Challenge: Plant Growth Chamber. Look for the title “Eighth Grade Students Complete Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Activity.”

Learn more about the Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Design Challenge at the Teachers Corner.

No Boundaries — Project-based Competition for Students

No Boundaries competition logo
No Boundaries, a USA TODAY education initiative in collaboration with NASA, encourages students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students explore STEM careers through stimulating project-based learning and team competition. No Boundaries targets students in grades 7-12 and is designed as a team-centered cooperative learning project. No Boundaries is cross-curricular and requires minimal teacher preparation. It aligns to national standards and includes assessment rubrics. Students who submit their final No Boundaries career presentation projects to the 2011 National No Boundaries Competition are eligible to win up to $2,000 in cash awards for themselves and $500 for their teacher or sponsor. They will receive VIP passes to visit a NASA facility. Winners may be asked to present their work to NASA.

For more information, visit the competition website.

NES Chat With NASA Scientist Dr. Joel S. Levine

NASA Explorer Schools invites K-12 students to join a live chat on Jan. 21 from 2 – 3 p.m. EST with Dr. Joel S. Levine. Dr. Levine is the Chief Scientist of the ARES Mars Airplane Mission, and will answer questions about the the development of a robotic, rocket-powered airplane that will fly through the atmosphere of Mars to search for evidence of life by looking for trace gases of biogenic origin. 

Join the chat at

An archive of the chat will be posted shortly after the chat ends.

Voting Open for This Year's NASA OPTIMUS PRIME Student Video Contest

Optimus PrimeTeachers, are you interested in incorporating video technologies into student learning activities? Here’s a great way to show your students examples of student-created videos that support learning.

OPTIMUS PRIME is more than just a well-recognized name from TV and movies: it is a great analogy for NASA technology transfer and, therefore, an excellent teaching tool. OPTIMUS PRIME began in space and transformed itself in order to come to Earth. OPTIMUS PRIME goes undetected and helps people while protecting them. Similarly, NASA technologies, though designed for space applications, are often modified and transformed to go into everyday products used on Earth; they often help people but still go undetected.

The OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award promotes NASA spinoffs, recognizes innovation through technology transfer, and promotes innovative communication of spinoff stories to the public through video. The OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award both acknowledges the contribution of both NASA innovators and the companies that spun off NASA technology for commercial applications and educates America’s youth about the benefits of NASA spinoff technology.

To watch and vote for your favorite student video in this year’s competition, go to

The deadline for casting your vote is Feb. 6, 2011.

OPTIMUS PRIME is a trademark of Hasbro and is used with permission. © 2010 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

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.

International Space Station EarthKAM Winter 2011 Mission

Middle school educators are invited to join NASA for the International Space Station EarthKAM Winter 2011 Mission from Jan. 18-21, 2011. Find out more about this exciting opportunity that allows students to take pictures of Earth from a digital camera aboard the International Space Station.

EarthKam logoInternational Space Station EarthKAM is a NASA-sponsored project that provides stunning, high-quality photographs of Earth taken from the space shuttle and the space station. Since 1996, EarthKAM students have taken thousands of photographs of Earth by using the World Wide Web to direct a digital camera on select spaceflights and, currently, on the space station.

For more information about the project and to register for the upcoming mission, visit the EarthKAM home page.

If you have questions about the EarthKAM project, please e-mail