A New Year, A New Challenge and Free Training

Learn the engineering design process in a free webinar and participate in a design challenge

It’s that time of year again! Many of you have or will soon begin a new school year. Maybe you’ve decided that this year you’re going to do something exciting, something you have never done before with you students. Consider participating in the Exploration Design Challenge. Students around the world are proposing solutions for astronauts who will be exposed to radiation on long-duration missions. This challenge is for students in grades K-12.

If you’ve never participated in a NASA challenge, it may seem intimidating. NASA has a solution to help alleviate your fears. The Aerospace Education Exploration Design Challenge logoServices Project is offering three different webinars on the engineering design process.

On Aug. 26 and Sept. 9, you can participate in the online seminar “The Engineering Design Process: Part 1– Ask, Imagine, Plan.” According to the AESP site, participants learn about problem identification, brainstorming and design challenges using the “Spaghetti Anyone?” tower building activity.

On Aug. 29, “Part 2 — Create, Experiment, Improve” will be offered. In this hands-on webinar, you will learn about the build, test and evaluate, redesign, and share-the-solution steps of the engineering design process.

On Sept. 23, you will learn how to modify your lessons to teach the engineering process in the session entitled “Applying the Engineering Design Process to STEM Content.”

AESP education specialists facilitate these free NASA webinars. You will not need any special software or equipment to participate. Simply go to the meeting room website listed on the AESP Webinar site to participate. To join the challenge, go to the EDC website and register your students for the Exploration Design Challenge. Participating students and their sponsors will become a part of history as their names are sent on the test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

This is your opportunity to join in making history!

This post is part of a series about the NASA Exploration Design Challenge.

NASA Exploration Design Challenge

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Top 10 Reasons to Participate in the EDC

A list of reasons to participate the NASA Exploration Design Challenge

What’s one of the most exciting things going on this year with NASA Education? The answer is the NASA Exploration Design Challenge! If you haven’t heard the news, the challenge asks students to think of a solution for protecting astronauts from radiation.

In my opinion, this is a cool, relevant way to involve teams of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Why should you consider participating with your class, homeschool, troop or club? Here are my top reasons.

The Top 10 Reasons for Students to Participate in EDC:

10. It’s free!

9. Students will think like scientists and solve problems like engineers in this real-world STEM problem.

8. Teams will join an activity in which students from more than 30 countries are participating.

7. Resources include standards-based activities, background information, safety procedures and videos for students in K-12.

6. Looking for answers to a real-world problem can be a powerful learning experience.

Why Should Students Get Involved With the NASA Exploration Design Challenge? Kelvin Kirby explains. Kirby is deputy director for the Center for Radiation Engineering and Science for Space Exploration at Prairie View A&M University in Texas.

5. Students learn about Orion, NASA’s next spacecraft for human explorers.

4. Team members and their sponsors will be a part of history as their names will be stored in the Smithsonian Institute as Orion’s virtual crew.

3. EDC motivates students toward STEM careers they may not have considered.

2. Winning high school teams will be invited to the inaugural launch of Orion.

1. Participants will serve as honorary, virtual crew members for Orion’s Exploration Flight Test-1!

The challenge has already begun. But it’s not too late to … Plan to kick off your 2013-2014 school year in an exciting way by involving your students. High school students must submit their solutions by Jan. 14, 2014. All others must register for the virtual crew by March 14, 2014.

This post is part of a series about the NASA Exploration Design Challenge.

NASA Exploration Design Challenge

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NASA’s Exploration Design Challenge

NASA Education has hundreds of lesson plans and classroom activities that enhance the practical application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. These lessons can be used at anytime. But on occasion, NASA Education offers special opportunities that involve your students in NASA’s mission.

The newest opportunity is the Exploration Design Challenge. Students around the world from grades K-12 are invited to research and design ways to protect astronauts from space radiation. After students complete the activities, their teacher registers the students on the Exploration Design Challenge site and downloads their certificates of participation.

Students who participate will have their names flown on the test flight of the new Orion spacecraft next year.

NASA’s associate administrator for education Leland Melvin invites students
to participate in the NASA Exploration Design Challenge.

If you have never been involved in a NASA challenge before, the EDC is a good place to start. You may have time this summer to plan and prepare for participation in the 2013-2014 school year. The EDC site has videos, downloadable guides with background information, safety procedures and data collection charts.
Join teachers and students from more than 30 countries in the Exploration Design Challenge.
This post is part of a series about the NASA Exploration Design Challenge.

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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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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 JSC-Teaching-From-Space@mail.nasa.gov or by phone at 281-244-7608.

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

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    Get Involved: Spaced Out Sports

    Space + sports = fun. Yes, I am a former math teacher, and I remember what adds up to engaged learning — start with two subjects that most students enjoy.

    Hypothesis: Combining the wonder of space and NASA with the thrill of sports will motivate students for greater learning success.

    And now the science teacher in me comes out.

    Whether you take the mathematical approach or use the scientific method, NASA’s Spaced Out Sports design challenge can get the ball rolling. Okay, I’ll stop.

    Students design a game for astronauts to play on the space station.

    Students apply Newton’s Laws of Motion to design or redesign a game that astronauts on the International Space Station can play.

    The competition is open to students in grades 5-8. Student teams will submit game demonstrations via a playbook and a video. Submissions will be accepted from schools, home school groups, and after-school or enrichment programs.

    Watch the video of last year’s winners.

    Use the DIY Podcast videos to jump-start students’ ideas and to find background information about Newton’s laws and microgravity.

    •    DIY Podcast: Micro-g
    •    DIY Podcast: Newton’s Laws
    •    DIY Podcast: Sports Demo

    DIY Podcast videos
    •    Tightrope walking in microgravity
    •    Microgravity baseball
    •    Football on the station

    The deadline for Spaced Out Sports submissions is March 16, 2012.
    For details, visit the Spaced Out Sports website.

    Teachers, let the games begin!

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    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

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    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  

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

      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 jsc-rgeducator@nasa.gov. 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

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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
      JSC-Teaching-From-Space@mail.nasa.gov or by phone, 281-244-7608.

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

      In-flight Education Downlinks Home

      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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