Watch a Live Downlink

Tune in to NASA TV on Nov. 15 at 11:35 a.m. EST to see students involved in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program talk live with astronauts Suni Williams and Kevin Ford who are on the International Space Station. Expedition 33 mission patch

SSEP is an educational research opportunity that allows students to design and send experiments to the space station through a partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. Williams has been involved in activating the latest round of SSEP experiments brought up on the Dragon spacecraft in early October.

The downlink, hosted at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., takes place during International Education Week. IEW is a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education that celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller, NASM Director General Jack Dailey, Smithsonian Institute Assistant Secretary for Education and Access Claudine Brown, and the NASA Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin will participate in the program.

Watch the downlink; then build a multimedia project with the Do-It-Yourself Podcast module Space Station.


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One of Our Kind, Under Water

What a great time to be a teacher! In our last post, we highlighted
educator-turned-astronaut Joe Acaba, Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger poses beside a T-38 jet trainerwho is orbiting Earth aboard the International Space Station. A teacher-turned-aquanaut just completed a mission under the waters of the Florida Keys. 

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger taught high school science in
Washington state for five years. In 2003, she applied for NASA’s Educator Astronaut Program. NASA selected her to be an astronaut candidate in 2004, and she finished astronaut training in 2006.
She flew on the16-day space shuttle mission STS-131 in 2010. Dottie recently spent 12 days as commander of NEEMO 16 at Aquarius — the world’s only undersea research station.  Aquarius is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, and is located 3.5 miles off Key Largo, 62 feet below the surface next to a deep coral reef.

NASA uses Aquarius for the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations project. The NEEMO crew members, called aquanauts, are able to simulate living in a harsh environment such as explorers might encounter on an asteroid, moon or distant planet. As commander of NEEMO 16, Dottie led her crew in accomplishing the mission goals and also performing experiments that students and teachers could follow.

The NEEMO 16 crew's underwater portrait

You and your students can use videos of Dottie from her space shuttle mission to build a podcast about microgravity. The DIY Podcast Micro-g module features Dottie in videos 42-v Micro-g, 44-v Micro-g, and 45-v Micro-g.


DIY Podcast: Micro-g

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One of Our Kind in Space

Teachers dedicate their lives to the next generation. As a middle school teacher, I remember doing just about anything to teach a great lesson.

Astronaut Joe Acaba was/is a middle and high school teacher. (Aren’t we always teachers, even after we step out of the classroom?) Joe taught science and math, but now he’s on the International Space Station. He became an astronaut in 2004. He has visited the station before as a mission specialist on space shuttle mission STS-119. This time he’s going to live and work on the station for several months as a flight engineer for Expeditions 31 and 32.

Alt tag: Astronaut Joe Acaba, ready for a spacewalk, wears a white spacesuit

Because he’s a teacher-turned-astronaut, education is in his blood. Visit the Teach Station website to learn about upcoming education opportunities. Don’t forget to follow Joe on Twitter and read his blog, The Great Outer Space.

Students may want to incorporate Joe’s visit to the space station into their podcast episodes using the Space Station module.

Now is a good time to learn about the International Space Station, while a teacher is on board.

 Expedition 31 crew poster with Robonaut 2   Expedition 32 crew poster

Teach Station

Expedition 31 

DIY Podcast: Space Station

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If I Could Talk to the Astronauts

NASA discovers new worlds, builds better aircraft, sends probes to the end of the solar system, studies Earth, and launches humans into space. On top of all that, NASA has free opportunities for teacher and student involvement.

Another one of those opportunities is coming soon. NASA is accepting proposals from educational institutions that would like to host a videoconference with astronauts who are on board the International Space Station. The event is called an In-flight Education Downlink. During the downlink, students and astronauts have a 20-minute question-and-answer session as the astronauts orbit Earth. I like to call it the ultimate “ask-the-expert” experience.

The proposals, due June 1, 2012, will allow the selected institutions (schools, districts, museums, etc.) to downlink with the space station Expedition 33 and 34 crews. Astronauts Sunita Williams, Kevin Ford and Thomas Marshburn will answer students’ questions. Williams is returning to the station. She lived and worked on the station 195 days during her tour as flight engineer for Expeditions 14 and 15 from December 2006 to June 2007. She is featured in the DIY Podcast: Fitness module.

Watch astronauts Dan and Don talk to elementary school students
during a recent downlink.

Even before you submit a proposal, you and your students can participate in an interactive webcast with Williams. On May 2, 2012, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. EDT, Williams will discuss her past experiences with NASA and the science she’ll be performing during her next mission. The webcast is made available by NASA’s Digital Learning Network.

What kind of questions would your students ask if they could talk to the astronauts? Would they be motivated to learn more about science, technology, engineering or math? 

NASA’s Teaching From Space Office makes the In-flight Education Downlinks available. TFS will even help you plan your proposal with informal online sessions to answer your questions. As part of the application, you will need to explain your plan for post-downlink activities. How will you use the downlink experience to continue to motivate your students and the community? Consider including clips from the downlink in your DIY Podcast creations.

Don’t miss these chances to talk to NASA astronauts.

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

Here are a few articles to help and inspire you. Good luck.

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