New Don Pettit Experiments

During his tour as the science officer of Expedition 6, astronaut Don Pettit spent some of his Saturday mornings conducting a series of scientific experiments. He videotaped some of the experiments and downlinked them to the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Pettit’s “Saturday Morning Science” experiments were conducted using ordinary items on the International Space Station. Pettit recently returned to the station as a flight engineer for Expedition 30. And again he is experimenting with everyday objects in microgravity.

White knitting needle with drops of water on it and a drop of water floating near


Don Pettit experimented with charged knitting needles and drops of water.
The drops orbited the needles before adhering to them.

NASA and the American Physical Society have begun a partnership to share videos from the space station with science fans around the world. The program is called “Science off the Sphere.” Each episode will end with a question for viewers. APS will review the responses and identify a winner. Pettit will recognize the winner in a later episode.

DIY Podcast Micro-g module

DIY Podcast Home

Please Note: If you leave a comment, please do not include a link to your blog or other websites. We typically won’t be able to approve your comment if you add a URL.

Webcasts You Don't Want to Miss

NASA’s Digital Learning Network, or DLN, has special events coming up in May that you won’t want to miss. DLN provides free, interactive webcasts and videoconferences with NASA experts. A webcast is a live event broadcast over the Internet. These events may be archived later for on-demand viewing.

Four DLN special events relating to DIY Podcast modules will be shown in May.

 Sunita Williams   May 2, 2012, 9:30-10:30 a.m. EDT  
    Meet astronaut Sunita Williams as she prepares for Expedition 33 to the International
    Space Station. Williams will share her journey to NASA, mission experiences and the
    exciting science she will conduct while living on the International Space Station.
    Become a part of her mission by participating in this interactive webcast.

Tara Ruttley    May 11, 2012, 2-3 p.m. EDT  
    NASA scientist Tara Ruttley will answer questions from students in grades
    4-12 about conducting research on the International Space Station and the
    benefits of these experiments in helping to sustain life in space and enhance
    life on Earth.

Expedition 31 crew   May 15, 2012, Noon to 1 p.m. EDT  
   Join NASA’s Johnson Space Center live from the Space Vehicle Mock-up
   Facility as we celebrate the Soyuz launch of astronaut Joe Acaba and the
   Expedition 31 crew. Learn about the upcoming mission to the space station
   and meet an astronaut trainer.

Astronaut prepares for flight   May 17, 2012, 1-2 p.m. EDT  
   Talk with David Fuller, NASA flight systems engineer, about space and its effect
    on humans. Many issues need to be solved before humans can go on long-duration
    space missions, and he can answer some of your questions about long space travel.

These events may give students extra background information and a chance to ask a specific question of a NASA expert. They could be helpful if students are creating podcast episodes using these modules:

The webcasts that I’ve mentioned are called “special events.” Beside these, you should check out the Event Catalog to schedule a DLN event that meets your needs.

NASA’s Digital Learning Network

DIY Podcast Home

Please Note: If you leave a comment, do not include a link to your blog or other websites. We typically won’t be able to approve your comment if you add a URL.

Resources for Teaching Microgravity

Although the name implies that it’s small, microgravity is a big deal to NASA. Microgravity is the environment of near weightlessness that astronauts experience as they’re orbiting Earth. The study of microgravity opens the door to research possibilities and discoveries as well as to planning for future long distance, long duration exploration.

NASA Education has resources to help students learn about microgravity that will in turn prepare them to build better podcast episodes with the Micro-g DIY Podcast module.

The Microgravity Education website is loaded with lesson plans, articles and videos about microgravity. A page of opportunities announces contests and microgravity-related events in which students and teachers may participate.

“Free Fall Ball” is an interactive game on the Microgravity Education site.

The site’s interactive Free Fall Ball game is a fun feature. Shoot baskets in normal gravity and in no gravity to see if you have the skills to play anywhere in the universe

DIY Podcast Micro-g module

DIY Podcast Home

Please Note: If you leave a comment, please do not include a link to your blog or other websites.  We typically won’t be able to approve your comment if you add a URL.

Saturday Morning Science

One of the most interesting things about life on the space station — besides floating, and being in space, and observing Earth from above — is seeing how everyday things respond to microgravity. (Okay, I’m saying this as someone who has only wished to go into space, but I’m taking my best guess based on what I’ve seen and heard.)

From November 2002 to May 2003, Don Pettit, who holds a doctorate in chemical engineering, spent 161 days on the International Space Station as Expedition 6 NASA ISS Science Officer. During Pettit’s time off on Saturday mornings, he conducted spontaneous experiments in microgravity with everyday items. He recorded the experiments on video and called them Saturday Morning Science.

Water with drops of color suspended in a wire loop
Water is being held in place by a metal loop to demonstrate
surface tension in microgravity.

Pettit performed experiments with large spheres of water, soap bubbles, antacid tablets and other items on the station. Microgravity had interesting effects on those simple items. You can watch some of the experiments on these sites:

We have made some of Pettit’s clips available in the DIY Podcast Micro-g module. Students may want to perform and film some of these simple experiments to add a comparison of their 1-g experiments to Pettit’s micro-gexperiments to their podcast episode.

Students may want to use some of the photographs of Pettit’s experiment. The photos begin on this page.

Pettit returned to the station on Dec. 23, 2011 as a crew member for International Space Station Expeditions 30 and 31. You can check the NASA website to find out what he’s doing on the station this time.

DIY Podcast Micro-g module

DIY Podcast Home

Please Note: If you leave a comment, please do not include a link to your blog or other websites. We typically won’t be able to approve your comment if you add a URL.

Micro-g — One of the Best Modules Yet

Our newest DIY Podcast module is one of the best yet — IMHO — in my humble opinion.

With the Micro-g module, you and your students can build podcast episodes about the fun part of space exploration — microgravity.

Water sphere floats with colored candies and the symbol for microgravity inside it

Fifty-five video clips are in this module. Nancy Hall, a NASA engineer for space station research, explains microgravity and NASA’s interest in using microgravity research.

Mike Fincke has firsthand experience with microgravity — more than just a little. As an astronaut, he has spent more time in space than any other U.S. citizen. Fincke has logged 381 days, 15 hours and 11 minutes in orbit. He was a space station science officer and flight engineer for Expedition 9 on the International Space Station in 2004. In October 2008, he returned to the station as the commander of Expedition 18. His most recent mission in orbit (and in microgravity) was space shuttle mission STS-134 in 2011. In the videos, Fincke shares his experiences in microgravity.

Expedition 20 and 21 flight engineers Nicole Stott and Bob Thirsk discuss microgravity from the station.

Besides those interviews, we have fun B-roll — you know, that extra background footage like they use on the news. This footage includes astronauts enjoying free fall by doing things you can’t do on Earth. Footage also shows the behavior of liquids in microgravity. You can use footage of NASA’s microgravity platforms that show how NASA creates microgravity on Earth — reduced-gravity aircraft, the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and drop towers.

Start previewing and downloading now. Students are sure to have fun with this module.


DIY Podcast Home

Please Note: If you leave a comment, please do not include a link to your blog or other websites. We typically won’t be able to approve your comment if you add a URL.

Train Like an Astronaut

2012 is just around the corner. Maybe you’ve resolved to get in shape, as most of us do after the damage we’ve done from Thanksgiving to January 1. A new year may be the motivation you need to build a podcast using the Fitness module.

The Train Like an Astronaut project is a good place to begin. The site was developed in cooperation with NASA scientists and fitness professionals working directly with astronauts. The activities are a physical and inquiry-based approach to human health and fitness on Earth and in space. Teach your students physical activities modeled after the real-life physical requirements of humans traveling in space.

Cartoon astronaut and the words Train Like an Astronaut

NASA recently added several new items to the Training Videos module with demonstrations of the physical exercises. Astronaut and educator Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger and newly selected astronaut Kjell Lindgren introduce the activities. NASA trainers then explain the exercises to a group of students as they perform them.

The Train Like an Astronaut hands-on activities help students understand the science behind nutrition and physical activity in their lives and in the lives of astronauts in space.

A podcast made with the Fitness module and the Train Like an Astronaut project can easily become an interdisciplinary lesson — science and health education join with technology and physical education. See the post “Fitness Topic Module Offers Opportunity for Integrated Curricula“.

The following videos have more background information for student research on astronaut fitness:

Working Out Aboard the Station
How Space Exploration Affects Muscles
Exercise Helps Keep Astronauts Healthy in Space

Train Like an Astronaut is inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity and encouraging families across the country to commit to living healthier lives.

DIY Podcast: Fitness

DIY Podcast Home

Better Videos — Tips From OPTIMUS PRIME

NASA is a sponsor of the OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award. In this contest, students submit videos about NASA Spinoffs. A spinoff is NASA technology that is being reused in different ways. 

The Making Your Video page of the contest website has five videos with tips for creating a video. You and your students may use these tips as you create productions with DIY Podcast modules.

Video screengab from NASA OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award "Making Your Video" page

                       Watch simple tips to improve the quality of your podcast episode

Tip 1: Enough is enough! This tip discusses the ideal length for your clips.
Tip 2:  Get framed. Discover techniques on framing the subject of your video, including how to choose the best angle for and distance from the subject.
Tip 3:  What was that? Learn how to avoid audio issues, including background noise.
Tip 4:  Movin’ on. Get tips on transferring videos from the camera to the computer.
Tip 5:  Cut! Begin editing your video.

    Each video lasts less than two minutes but gives enough information to help even the novice video producer create a better product.

    Check out the OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award site, and submit your video. Registration is open to students in grades 3-12, and the registration deadline is Jan. 3, 2012. Video submissions must be received by Jan. 17, 2012.

    NASA OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award  

    DIY Podcast Home

    TRANSFORMERS and OPTIMUS PRIME are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2011 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

    Rocketry Website

    We have your rocketry needs wrapped up in one place. Have you seen NASA Education’s Rocketry website? Here’s a list straight from the source.
    Rocketry Education website
    Things you can do on this site:

       • Answer the question: What is a rocket?
       • Investigate and learn about rockets at NASA.
       • Learn the terms that the rocket scientists use.
       • Visit the Rocketry Image Gallery.
       • Read about the careers of rocketry experts.
       • Learn about the history of rocketry.
       • Check out lesson plans for your classroom.
       • Stay up-to-date with information about NASA-supported rocketry competitions.
       • Watch and download video and multimedia features about rocketry.
       • Browse NASA websites for information about rocketry.

      For students, the site features the interactive How Do Rockets Stack Up? in which students can compare model rockets to the real thing. The site also has an image gallery with more than 50 rocket-related images. The multimedia section has links to more images, interactive pages, videos, animations and podcasts.

      For you the teacher, the site has lesson plans, a career corner in which scientists and engineers talk about their career paths in the field of rocketry and their work at NASA, a page of opportunities for participation, and a link to related sites.

      Students will find information and media that they can use to create a first-rate podcast.

      Rocketry Education website
      Rocket Science DIY Podcast topic module
      DIY Podcast Home

      You in Microgravity

      For years, doctors have been writing books with word “You” in the title. Well, how about telling your own story: You in Microgravity?

      NASA does not run short on the cool factor. And here’s another cool way for teachers to get involved. When you’re not planning lessons to meet education standards, teaching those lessons, or grading students’ work, along with all of the other things you do, you might consider proposing an experiment that could be conducted in microgravity.

      The Teaching From Space Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas has announced an opportunity for K-12 teachers to propose an experiment that could be conducted on a reduced-gravity aircraft. The aircraft will fly approximately 30 roller-coaster-like climbs and dips to produce periods of microgravity and hypergravity, ranging from 0 g’s to 2 g’s. You are invited to submit a proposal for an experiment that you and a team of your colleagues could perform in reduced gravity.

      The DIY Podcast connection is this: Your students are building a podcast using one of the modules filmed on the International Space Station. They have seen examples of experiments conducted in microgravity but still have questions. If you had been selected to fly your experiment on the microgravity aircraft, you could give them a firsthand account of the experience. Design an experiment with your students. If you are selected to fly, they could use video footage from your experiment in their podcast.

      Ideas for experiment should include a variable that is affected by gravity. Look at the Sports Demo module for some examples. Maybe there is an experiment that students would like to see that demonstrates one of the laws of physics.

      Visit the Microgravity University website for more information or send an email to Your team’s proposal must be submitted by Sept. 21, 2011.

      For more ideas, read these articles and watch these videos:

      The Ups and Downs of Liquid Density
      The Ups and Downs of Water Droplets
      The Ups and Downs of Convection
      Toys in Space Mission 5 Buzz Lightyear To Infinity and Beyond! Games
      Buzz Lightyear Toys in Space Activity
      Toys in Space

      DIY Podcast Home

      Watch a Live Q & A Session From the Space Station

      Many of our current DIY Podcast modules feature astronauts on the International Space Station. To see firsthand what goes on there and to hear student questions to the crew, watch a live downlink.

      Four crew members float through the space station in four different directions.
      Expedition 28 flight engineer Ron Garan and other crew members
      float through the International Space Station.

      Tune in to NASA TV Monday, Aug. 29, at 12:35 p.m. CDT as the Museum of Flight hosts a live question and answer session between students and astronauts Ron Garan, Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa. The museum currently offers a variety of activities that explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and the space program. The museum seeks to use the downlink to bring these subjects alive and inspire the audience to pursue a variety of STEM activities. Students from Aviation High School, Puyallup High School, Civil Air Patrol, and Liberty High School will take part in this unique opportunity.

      NASA TV

      DIY Podcast Home