New Treadmill Information for Fitness Module

The DIY Podcast topic module about fitness explains that space station crew members use treadmill exercises to maintain bone mass, cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance. The device that’s mentioned and demonstrated is the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System, or TVIS. Now, a new treadmill to go along with TVIS has been added to the station, and you may want to include it in your classroom’s podcast about fitness.

COLBERT, the world’s most famous treadmill, was transferred to the station in September during the STS-128 shuttle mission. The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT, is named after Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report.” NASA chose the acronym COLBERT after the television comedian received the most votes in an online NASA poll to name a space station node. NASA opted to name the node Tranquility, but named the treadmill after Colbert.

COLBERT (the treadmill, not the comedian) has a maximum speed of 12.4 mph, which is faster than the Olympic 100 meter race record. Crew members usually run about 4 to 8 mph. The COLBERT design allows ground experts tracking crew health in orbit to create individual exercise prescriptions and uplink them to the crew as a profile.

The following links to images, video and background information will be helpful if your students want to include COLBERT in their fitness production.


COLBERT decal on the treadmill

Stephen Colbert’s inspirational message video

Do Tread on Me 
COLBERT Ready for Serious Exercise 

Announcement on “Colbert Report,” Treadmill Named COLBERT

DIY Podcast: Fitness
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Science Demonstrations for a Spacesuits Podcast

If you plan to use the DIY Podcast Spacesuits topic module for your students to create their own video podcast, you might consider requiring them to do a science demonstration to enhance their understanding of science concepts and improve the overall quality of their podcast. One of the best ways to understand a concept is to do it, and NASA Education has resources to guide students in creating their own demonstrations. The Spacesuits and Spacewalks Education Activities page lists links to lesson plans.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Some of the lessons from the Suited for Spacewalking Educator Guide now have demonstration videos. The videos give brief explanations of lesson concepts and the materials and setups needed for demonstrations.
  • In the Keeping Your Cool demonstration, students learn how the liquid cooling and ventilation garment works.
  • Micrometeoroids and Space Debris helps students explain the need for spacesuits to provide protection from tiny, high-speed particles in space. Students can also learn about the various layers of the spacesuit.
  • The Bending Under Pressure demonstration allows students to use inflated balloons and rubber bands to discuss how NASA engineers must construct a spacesuit so that astronauts can work in it when it is pressurized.
  • Students demonstrate how surface color affects heat absorption in the Absorption and Radiation demonstration.

As students rehearse and record their demonstrations for a podcast, they gain a deeper, more practical understanding of these science concepts.

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DIY Podcast: Spacesuits

Rocket Resources for Teachers

NASA knows rockets. And NASA has educator guides that include lesson plans about rockets. These educator guides may come in handy if your class creates their own podcasts using the DIY Podcast Rocket Evolution topic module.

The Rockets Educator Guide contains new and updated lessons and activities from the original Rockets Educator Guide published in 2003. The Adventures in Rocket Science Educator Guide is especially for informal education venues, with 25 activities for educators and students.

The Engineering Design Challenges: Spacecraft Structures Educator Guide challenges students to think about how a rocket should be strong, yet lightweight. Students build and test a launch structure with these qualities. The Engineering Design Challenges: Thermal Protection Systems Educator Guide calls for students to design, build and test a thermal protection system model that can withstand the heat of a propane torch.

The Lunar Nautics: Designing a Mission to Live and Work on the Moon Educator Guide has 44 activities that engage students in many aspects of planning a mission on the moon — from initial concepts to building rockets and a model of the lunar lander that will explore the moon.

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DIY Podcast: Rocket Evolution

Deciding Between Audio and Video Podcasts

As you start a new school year, our NASA education team hopes you’re planning to include the DIY Podcast as a classroom project. It’s a ready-made resource for engaging your students in STEM topics. You may be trying to decide between audio and video as you set the stage for your students to create their own podcasts featuring NASA astronauts and technical experts.

A good starting point is to pinpoint what you’re trying to achieve. Is your focus on sharing knowledge and information, or do you want to demonstrate a concept or activity? Demonstrations are usually enhanced by visual productions. Straight information and content-rich interviews and sound bites are well-suited for audio productions.

Try to anticipate how people are likely to use your product. If you think they’ll take time to watch it on their computer or mobile device, video may be the right choice. If it’s more likely they would want to listen to your students’ podcast while doing other things, audio may be better. Audio works well for multitaskers who might not stop what they’re doing just to watch a video. Generally speaking, video is a foreground medium and audio is a background medium.

An important consideration is the time and equipment required to produce your podcast. Audio usually takes much less time to produce than video, and the equipment costs less. Audio files are smaller than video files, which may be a key factor if bandwidth is a concern for you.

The popularity of online video continues to soar. Educators recognize the power of visual communication. Research suggests that more than 80 percent of human learning occurs visually. Combining audio and visual elements leaves a strong, long-lasting impression.

Since the whole point is to engage your students, you may want to ask them which medium they would prefer to create. And remember to create a podcasting rubric before you begin the assignment.

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NASA Student Resources

One component of NASA Education DIY Podcast topic modules is a list of resources related to a specific topic, such as Newton’s laws or spacesuits. On the main page of each topic module, you’ll find helpful information for writing a podcast script on that topic, followed by links to related resources. As you might expect, the lists of links just skim the surface of NASA resources available to students when they’re conducting research for classroom projects.

Homework Topics pages are a good place for students to do research for their DIY podcast. New topics are added at the K-4 and 5-8 reading levels.

Homework Topics Grades K-4: Search by Topic
Homework Topics Grades 5-8: Search by Topic

Here are additional research tools you may want to share with your students:
NASA Student Pages by Subject
NASA Student Sites Listed by Alphabet

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