Over 3000 K-12 Students Connected with NASA Airborne Science Program Missions During the 2012-2013 School Year

One hundred and sixty-four K-12 classrooms from across the UnitedStates and Chile with 3030 total students participated in online chats withAirborne Science Program mission personnel in the field during the 2012/2013school year. 

Mission Tools Suite for Education is a unique website that allows studentsand teachers to connect directly with ongoing Airborne Science researchcampaigns.  The Mission Tools Suite (MTS) is web-based software used bymission personnel to monitor and assist with real-time decision making duringthe course of an Airborne Science mission.  The Airborne Science Programhas created a scaled down version of the tool called MTS for Education (MTSE),which is aimed at supporting core K-12 classroom science curriculum.

The NASA Airborne Science Program’s Mission Tools Suite for Educationwebsite allows K-12 classrooms from around the world to track the locations ofNASA aircraft in real-time and participate in live text-chats with missionscientists, pilots, and others flying inside the airplanes and with missionpersonnel on the ground.  Websitefeatures include:

      Live flight following 

     Students and teachers can track the position ofASP aircraft on a map in real-time

      Live camera feeds from the aircraft (on selectmissions)

      Real-time satellite data products

     Overlay current weather, hurricane tracks, etc

      Environmental data from the aircraft

     Ability to plot aircraft altitude, speed,temperature, wind speed, etc. in real-time

      Live text chats between classrooms and missionscientists, pilots, and others onboard the aircraft or on the ground

The website has so far been used during five NASA Airborne ScienceProgram missions in 2012-2013

      Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (Sept 2012)

      IceBridge Antarctic (Oct-Nov 2012)

      DISCOVER-AQ (Jan-Feb 2013)

      ATTREX (Feb-Mar 2013)

      IceBridge Arctic (Mar-May 2013)

From Kindergarteners asking if IceBridge personnel saw Santa when theyflew over the North Pole (they did not), to middle school students asking what itfeels like to fly a Global Hawk over a hurricane without actually being inside it during HS3, to highschool students asking specific questionsabout atmospheric chemistry during DISCOVER-AQ and ATTREX, classroom chats are effective at all grade levels.

IceBridge Project Manager, Christy Hansen and Project Scientist, Michael Studinger onboard the DC-8 flying over Antarctica chatting with a middle school classroom in Maryland.

“Our 3rd graders were enthralled with following Operation IceBridge.They loved learning about the science of the mission from those on theairplane, and were fascinated with Antarctica, and learned a lot about iceshelves, glaciers, and much more. Over the course of the year, they study allthe continents, so the area covered by the flights gave them an opportunity tobe introduced to Google Earth and use it to explore South America andAntarctica.  Kudos to Operation Icebridgefor including students in their mission. Thanks to all involved.”

–Cameron Cross, 3rdGrade Teacher, New Hampshire

Watch our educational video about the HS3 mission to seewhat MTSE looks like in action!

For more information and to connect your classroom with NASAAirborne Science missions all over the world, email Dr. Emily Schaller (emily.schaller(at)nasa.gov)