The New and Improved DIY Podcast Site

Describes the new features on the site

Did you resolve to make 2014-2015 the school year to incorporate technology into your classroom? If so, we are here to help — with the redesigned Do-It-Yourself Podcast site. It has a new look, improved navigation and added features that make it more convenient to use. And, on the home page, a two-minute video gives educational and motivational reasons to create multimedia products with the DIY Podcast resources.

Screen grab from the DIY Podcast home page The left side of the page has a new navigation menu that includes links to two new pages within the site: Topics, and Help and Support.

Since the video and audio resources are divided into topical modules, the new Topics page lists, describes, and summarizes the content of each module. Another new feature for our site is the STEM disciplines key found on the Topics page. By each module description, an S, a T, or an E signifies whether the module supports science, technology or engineering curriculum. (Math is, of course, “hidden” in all three.)

Continue reading “The New and Improved DIY Podcast Site”

Summer Renovations

Around the house and the school building, summer is a good time to renew and renovate. By coincidence, the NASA website is undergoing renovations too. You may have seen What the Heck Happened to But you may have arrived at the NASA site a different way and missed the announcement about the site changes. The NASA website contains a massive amount of information, so updating all the pages is no small task. As with all large-scale renovations, this one will take time to complete.

So how do the renovations affect the DIY Podcast site?

First, the URL for the blog post has changed. If you subscribed to the RSS feed via bookmarks, you’ve noticed that the old posts have disappeared. But now, of course, you’ve found us again!

One of the many changes is that NASA has moved all their videos to YouTube. We realize that the move has a major impact on our audience. Using YouTube is a great way for more people to see our clips. Unfortunately, it also means that at this time you will not be able to download videos from the most recent modules. Rest assured we are working on a solution, and we’ll keep you updated on our progress!

DIY Podcast Home

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Coming to Your Neighborhood

It’s cool to watch the International Space Station fly overhead. The problem is you have to remember to check the sighting opportunities page to know when and if the station will be flying over your location.

Smartphones and tablet computers have apps that send alerts for station flyovers. The International Space Station above EarthBut what if you don’t have either?

Spot the Station to the rescue!

A new service that was announced on Nov. 2, the 12th anniversary of a human presence on the space station, alerts subscribers to station-sighting opportunities. Alerts are sent as an email or as a text message hours before the station flies over the subscriber’s neighborhood. Only flyovers that are high enough in the sky and last long enough to view are announced in the alert.

You and your students may sign up to have alerts sent to your phone or email. You may also want to create a multimedia project using one of our space-station-related DIY Podcast modules:

•    Space Station
•    Recycling
•    Micro-g
•    Fitness
•    Lab Safety
•    Solar Arrays
•    Sports Demo

The last week of November and the first week of December will offer good sighting opportunities in many locations.

Spot the Station

DIY Podcast home

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Using the New DIY Podcast Video Delivery Tool

With our newest module, Rocket Science, we are using a new video delivery tool. NASA’s Video Gallery now houses the videos. Instead of downloading a Zip file, you can download one video at a reduced file size. Reduced file sizes mean faster downloads and less bandwidth and storage space usage. This capability is perfect if your school has limited space for files.

Another cool thing about the videos in the Gallery is that you can watch them on devices that do not use Flash players. So iPad and iPhone users can watch these videos now. Use a downloader app to put files on your device and a video editing app to build podcast episodes. You also can share them via a variety of social media.

Download DIY Podcast Rocket Science videos from NASA’s Video Gallery

Here’s a tip for downloading: On some browsers, you need to right click the “Download Video” button to be able to name the files as you like.

Windows XP and Vista users with MovieMaker should note that the videos download as mp4 files. You need to use a video converter to change the files from mp4 to .wmv files. Search the Web for a free converter. Be sure to read reviews to find the best.

I hope this new video format opens up new ideas and possibilities of how you can use DIY Podcast videos.

DIY Podcast Rocket Science

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Recently,an air pressurized paper rocket launcher being used by an educator failed. Thislauncher is described in NASA’s Rockets Educator Guide, publicationsEG-2011-11-223-KSC, pp. 86-90 and EG-2008-05-060-KSC, pp. 86-90.

NASAcompleted an engineering investigation into the failure and determined that thelauncher, or design equivalents, should not be used. NASA has removed thelauncher design from its website and its education curriculum. Individuals andorganizations should immediately discontinue use of the launcher published inthe referenced NASA publications.

The point of contact for additionalinformation is James Stofan, Deputy Associate Administrator for EducationIntegration at We request that your organization assist NASA in disseminating thisinformation as widely as possible throughout the education community.


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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

DIY Podcast Home

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New DIY Podcast Topic Module: Space Station

I could go on and on praising the International Space Station. You will probably recognize that when you see our newest DIY Podcast module — Space Station.

Selecting photos for the image page was like deciding which of your family’s pictures to use in the photo album — you know they’re all cute. Well, maybe it’s not that bad, but I had some tough decisions to make when it came to excluding pictures and videos. They’re all good.

I probably said this about the last module, but I’m excited about this one. The videos are informative and fun. The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to ways for students to use the video, audio and images to create a podcast episode. The station is real-world science; it’s off the planet; and things float there. Exciting!

The International Space Station orbiting Earth

This module has video and audio clip interviews from two experts. Camille Alleyne is the assistant program scientist for the International Space Station. Mike Fincke currently holds the NASA record for most time in orbit.

One of the many perks of my job is interviewing experts. I wanted to ask Ms. Alleyne questions all day. The more I listened the more impressed I was about the science taking place on the station. We have a lot of good things going on up there that are benefitting the world. I think I love the space station.

Interviewing Colonel Fincke was just plain fun. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the clips. Fincke gives us the perspective only someone who has lived on the station could.

We also have footage of astronaut Garrett Reisman giving a tour of the space station in 2008. This was before the station was finished, but you’ll get a glimpse of life aboard the station.

We also have extra footage of the station. And because there is so much to learn about the station, we have added an extra page of links that students can use for more research.

Beware of station overload!

DIY Podcast: Space Station

DIY Podcast Home

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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

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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

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