It IS Rocket Science

Our newest Do-It-Yourself Podcast topic module features a launch vehicle systems analyst, aka rocket scientist. Tristan Curry explains the concepts behind launching a rocket. Besides explaining the importance of the basic parts of a rocket, she also explains scientific principles in relation to a rocket. Your students can incorporate clips of Curry explaining Newton’s laws, gravity, thrust and safety. Education specialist Fred Kepner also explains how to find the center of gravity and center of pressure on a rocket and why those points are important to a rocket’s stability.

Although NASA applies these science concepts in building and launching rockets, the same principles apply to model rockets.

Rocket ScienceThe module includes 34 video clips and 10 audio clips. The video clips include footage from space shuttle, Atlas V, and Delta II launches and animations. We’ve also included historical footage of the Saturn V, German rocket launches from the 1940s, and newsreel footage of workers assembling Redstone missiles.

Students can shoot video of themselves building a rocket to mix with the rocket scientist explaining the science.

The Rocket Science module also includes links to images and other resources to support student creativity in building a podcast.

Rocket Science module

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Another Opportunity . . . The Ultimate “Ask the Expert” Experience!

You have another opportunity to speak with space station astronauts. The event is called an In-flight Education Downlink. During a downlink, students can interview astronauts and cosmonauts as they orbit Earth every 90 minutes. The format of the downlink is similar to that of a videoconference. This is the ultimate “ask the expert” experience.

There is currently a call for proposals for an educational downlink with International Space Station Expeditions 29 and 30. These crews are scheduled to be aboard the station between September 2011 and March 2012. To be considered for an event, you must submit an application. NASA’s Teaching From Space Office is looking for organizations that will draw large numbers of participants and integrate the downlink into a well-developed education plan.

Students stand in front of large screen showing astronauts on the space station

As a part of your plan, you should explain how you currently use NASA materials in the classroom. Since this is a unique opportunity, you should consider inviting members of the community to attend the event.  Read an example of two teachers who planned a cross-country downlink event together. They also use DIY Podcast.

Show your involvement with NASA by including how you use DIY Podcast. You might want to use the DIY Podcast topic modules to plan the types of questions you would like your students to ask. If you’ve been perusing the modules and wondered how something works in space, this would be a good time to ask. One key component of the application is to explain how you will use the downlink experience after the event.

I’ve included some links below to articles and videos about downlinks. I hope these help inspire you to apply. Good luck.

For more information, contact the Teaching From Space Office by email or by phone, 281-244-7608.

The deadline to submit a proposal is April 29, 2011.

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NASA Offers Schools and Education Groups Chance To Talk To Space

Cady Talks With NYC Students at Women’s Academy of Excellence video

D.C.Students Connect With Station Astronauts video

Reaching for the Stars in NYC: NASA Holds Education Forum to Inspire the Next Generation of Explorers

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On the Road Again: Space Exploration Educators Conference

We’re taking the DIY Podcast show on the road again. On Feb. 3, 2011, we will be presenting at the 17th annual Space Exploration Educators Conference, or SEEC, in Houston, Texas. The conference for K-12 educators has hands-on sessions on how to use the theme of “space” throughout the curriculum. Scientists and engineers are hosting some of the sessions, while others are being conducted by fellow educators. The DIY Podcast session will be hands-on. We will have an hour and a half to build podcast episodes together. The computers will be there ready for us, so there’s no need to bring your own laptop.

Denise stands near a Saturn V

Myfirst trip to Johnson Space Center was in 2001 when I was still a classroomteacher.

SEEC is a fun conference for us space geeks to network and tour NASA’s Johnson Space Center. If you interested, check out the SEEC website.
Hope to see you there.

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SpaceExploration Educators Conference

An Easy Way to Find Educational Resources

NASA has resources aligned to national education standards to supplement your curricula. As you teach background information that will help students build their own products using the DIY Podcast activity, you may want to use some of these resources.

Screenshot of the educational materials search tool

NASA’s Education Materials Finder can point you to educational resources, including lesson plans, educator guides, websites and video clips. You can use the search tool to get results by keyword, grade level, subject and product type. At the bottom of the search tool is a link to an A-Z list of downloadable guides, lesson plans and other publications.

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Educational materials search tool 

International Space Station Anniversary Resource

On November 2, 2000, the first inhabitants of the International Space Station moved aboard. Explorers have lived on the station continually since then. The current six-member crew is Expedition 25. During the 10 years and 25 crews, the space station has grown into a football field-sized orbiting science laboratory.
For the 10th anniversary of human presence on the International Space Station, the website has added a new interactive feature, Ten Years on the International Space Station. Many of the DIY Podcast topic modules include audio and video clips from the space station. Students can use this new resource to gather background information about the station that they may want to include in their podcasts. The interactive feature has fun facts and a video that includes some of the astronauts recorded in the DIY Podcast topic modules. 

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Space Station Resource for Students

Most of the DIY Podcast topic modules include audio and video clips from the space station. If your students are looking for background information about the station, you might want to point them to “What is the International Space Station?” This NASA Education homework helper answers questions such as:

  •    How old is the space station?
  •    What are the parts of the space station?
  •    Why is the space station important?

Tidbits of information about the station might fit nicely in a DIY Podcast script that features astronauts on the space station. 

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A Teacher's Point of View

I can tell you over again how engaging the DIY Podcast tool is for students. But it is better that you hear it from a teacher who is currently using it. I can give you some of the technical information and an ideal-world view, but we all know that it doesn’t always happen that way in the classroom. So in today’s post I’m including comments from a fifth-grade teacher who has used DIY Podcast with students.

So from the front line, here are comments from Neme Alperstein, one of NASA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer IT Summit’s 2010 OCIO Excellence in Teaching award winners. The award recognizes K-12 educators for the innovative use of technology within their curriculum.

We have had great fun using DIY Podcast. Students used a combination of video clips and NASA photographs to create their own presentations and their “take” on what’s cool and new at NASA. By making video and still images available to students online, the students can be the reporters communicating in “kidspeak” what speaks to them. DIY is 21st-century learning engaging children in learning that is personalized and exciting. Science, writing,communication and technology skills, and interpretation and analysis are just some of the areas in which students hone their skills. Perhaps the best part of it all is the fun and excitement it brings to learning about space science and exploration.

Neme began her DIY Podcast adventures with her students after being involved in NASA and other opportunities that are open to all teachers and students.

We began with content from videoconferencing with NASA’s Digital Learning Network. [We] expanded to a National Geographic/Earthwatch project studying monarch butterflies in Vietnam with a researcher from the U.S. skyping with students while she was in the field observing (and that led to student research and podcasting about their online findings) and [have] continued as students follow experiments on the International Space Station. As students create their own projects (most recently on robotics), video has become an essential means of expression reflecting learning.

You don’t have to buy extra software to build podcasts. Both Mac and Windows machines have software already installed that you can use to begin building podcasts right away. As students become pro podcasters, they may want to ditch software with limited capabilities and begin using applications that will allow them to create studio-quality productions.  

For the 2010-2011 school year, Neme has plans to improve their podcast productions.

We now have flip video camcorders so there will be many more video DIY Podcasts coming up this year. We now have a place to host the videos, which will allow us to create a library of student work!

If you are using or planning to use DIY Podcast, let us know your plans in the comment field. We are not able to post comments with URLs.

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NASADigital Learning Network

New School Year Resolutions

If you haven’t already, I’m sure you’ll be starting the new school year very soon. Just as January 1 is an ideal time to resolve to do something new, so is the new school year.  Why not make podcasting one of your goals? When your students create podcasts, they are meeting standards across the curriculum with one project. They are also learning and using 21st-century skills.

The DIY Podcast is one of the easiest ways to start podcasting. I have found this to be an easy tool for beginners to use. The audio and video clips are right at your fingertips. You don’t have to record anything new — you can start with what we’ve given you. Add your own touches and post them. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

The DIY Podcast is a great way to engage your students. When they are building their podcasts, they research the subject and they become the experts.  If you want them to add their own videos, they can demonstrate a science principle related to the topic. Plus they are going to want to build the most awesome podcast ever because there is a possibility that people all over the world will download it. Now that’s motivation.

And, come on, how cool is it to create and/or be in a podcast with a NASA engineer, scientist or even an astronaut in space?

So, what’s stopping you from building a podcast? Make a resolution. In upcoming posts, I’ll give you baby step tips on getting started. Happy School Year!

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Next Stop: ISTE


Our next road trip for the DIY Podcast is the International Society for Technology in Education’s ISTE 2010 Conference. This year’s conference, formerly known as NECC, will take place in Denver on June 27-30. We will offer two BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) sessions.


NASA’s Do-It-Yourself Podcast for Windows  will be Tuesday, June 29, from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

NASA’s Do-It-Yourself Podcast for Macs  will be Tuesday, June 29, from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.


We will walk you through building a short podcast episode.  NASA will also have a booth in the exhibit hall. Stop by and visit us in booth 2019. Conference registration is still open.


If you are attending the conference, submit a comment to let us know. Note that we cannot post your comment if it contains a URL or an email address.


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The Ultimate “Ask the Experts” Experience!

Would your students like to ask an astronaut on the space station how Newton’s Laws work? Would they like to ask questions to feature in their own podcast? NASA’s In-flight Education Downlink opportunities could make this possible. Your school or educational organization can submit a proposal to host an education downlink with crew members aboard the International Space Station. The format is similar to a videoconference, where students ask questions of astronauts and cosmonauts orbiting 220 miles above Earth and travelling 17,500 mph. Imagine your entire school watching the expedition crew answering your students’ questions live from the space station. To be considered, your school must submit a proposal to NASA. Note that a limited number of downlinks are planned for each expedition.


There is currently a call for proposals for an educational downlink during Expeditions 25 and 26. These downlinks are planned to take place between September 2010 and March 2011. The deadline to submit a proposal is May 31, 2010.


If your class is using the DIY Podcast topic modules, be sure to include this information in your proposal.


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STS-129 downlink with Tennessee Tech University

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