NASA Education Express — Aug. 18, 2011

Check out the following NASA opportunities for the education community. Full descriptions are listed below.

NASA Explorer Schools Live Video Chat: How Clouds Affect Our Weather and Climate
Audience: 8-12 Educators and Students
Event Date: Aug. 24, 2011

Electromagnetic Spectrum: Remote Sensing Ices on Mars Webinar
Audience: 6-12 and Informal Educators
Event Date: Aug. 24, 2011

DEADLINE APPROACHING: 2011 SPHERES Zero Robotics Challenge
Audience: 9-12 Educators and Students
Registration Deadline: Sept. 5, 2011

2012 NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program
Audience: Higher Education Students
Proposal Deadline: Oct. 26, 2011

New DIY Podcast Module: Rocket Science
Audience: 5-12 Educators and Students

New NASA eClips Videos Available
Audience: K-12 Educators


NASA Explorer Schools Live Video Chat: How Clouds Affect Our Weather and Climate

NASA Explorer Schools, or NES, invites educators and students in grades 8-12 from across the U.S. and Departments of Defense and State schools to participate in a special live video webchat. This chat will feature Lin Chambers, a physical scientist with the Climate Science Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Chambers will answer student questions about clouds, how they form, why they are important to our atmosphere and how they affect our weather and climate.

This one-hour video webchat starts at 2 p.m. EDT on Aug. 24, 2011.

You do not need to be a participant of the NASA Explorer Schools project to participate in the chat.

To learn more about NES, please visit the website.

For more information about this NES live video chat, visit

If you have any questions about the webcast, please contact John Entwistle at


Electromagnetic Spectrum: Remote Sensing Ices on Mars Webinar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute webinar on Aug. 24, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Learn how to use authentic NASA mission data to investigate the composition and distribution of ices in the high latitude regions of Mars through analysis of visible light, infrared light and gamma rays. The seminar includes information about a unique student extension activity, where students access a free computer simulation illustrating how gamma rays are used to determine the chemical composition of Mars.

For more information and to register online, visit

To learn more about the NASA Explorer Schools project, visit

E-mail any questions about this opportunity to John Entwistle at


DEADLINE APPROACHING: 2011 SPHERES Zero Robotics Challenge

NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and MIT’s Space Systems Laboratory are offering high school students the opportunity to design experiments that will be tested in space.

The 2011 Zero Robotics challenge is a continuation and expansion of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics education program using bowling ball-sized spherical satellites aboard the International Space Station.

The Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, are used inside the station to test maneuvers for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking. The three satellites that make up SPHERES fly in formation inside the station’s cabin. Each is self-contained with power, propulsion, computing and navigation equipment. Test results support satellite servicing, vehicle assembly and spacecraft that fly in formation.

The SPHERES Zero Robotics Challenge requires high school student teams to write their own algorithm to fly the satellites in the station. Teams must register before Sept. 5, 2011, at

Entries will be evaluated using simulations. Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., will host a ground test 2D competition in October. Two elimination rounds in the 3D online simulation will be held in November. The top 27 teams will have their code sent to the station, where an astronaut will program the SPHERES satellites to run their tests.

The Zero Robotics challenge, facilitated by MIT, TopCoder and Aurora Flight Sciences, continues the STEM focus of the SPHERES program. The 2011 challenge expands on a pilot program performed in 2009 and 2010. By making the benefits and resources of the space program tangible to high school students, Zero Robotics is designed to inspire future scientists and engineers. Students will have the opportunity to push their limits and develop skills in STEM. This program builds critical engineering skills for students such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, team work and presentation skills.

MIT’s Space Systems Laboratory developed SPHERES in 2006 to provide DARPA, NASA and other researchers with a long-term test bed for validating technologies critical to the operation of future satellites, docking missions and satellite autonomous maneuvers. The satellites provide opportunities to test a wide range of hardware and software at an affordable cost.

For additional information about NASA and MIT’s Zero Robotics program, visit

For additional information about DARPA, visit

Please e-mail any questions about this opportunity to Jason Crusan at


2012 NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program

NASA is offering undergraduate students an opportunity to test experiments in microgravity aboard NASA’s reduced gravity aircraft.

The opportunity is part of NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, which gives aspiring explorers a chance to propose, design and fabricate a reduced-gravity experiment. Selected teams will test and evaluate their experiment aboard NASA’s reduced-gravity airplane. The aircraft flies about 30 roller-coaster-like climbs and dips during experiment flights to produce periods of weightlessness and hypergravity ranging from 0 g to 2 g.

Proposals are due Oct. 26, 2011.

Interested students also should submit a letter of intent by Sept. 14, 2011. This step is optional but serves as an introductory notice that a team plans to submit a proposal for the upcoming competition.

NASA will announce selected teams Dec. 7, 2011. The teams will fly in the summer of 2012. Once selected, teams also may invite a full-time, accredited journalist to fly with them and document the team’s experiment and experiences. All applicants must be full-time undergraduate students, U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old.

To learn more about this opportunity, visit

Questions about this opportunity should be e-mailed to


New DIY Podcast Module: Rocket Science

Launch into the new school year with a new Do-It-Yourself Podcast topic module: Rocket Science.

NASA Launch Vehicle Systems Analyst (rocket scientist) Tristan Curry provides expert sound bites for students to build podcast episodes about the laws of physics that govern building and launching rockets. Education specialist Fred Kepner explains the stability of a rocket and how to achieve it.

Whether you’re building a film canister rocket or a launch vehicle to travel beyond Earth, the science behind rockets is the same. The topic module includes 33 video clips with Curry, Kepner, historical footage of rockets and shuttle launches, and animations. Sixteen audio clips also are included in the module. Students may download these NASA multimedia materials and integrate them into their own recordings and narration to create a podcast.

Other DIY Podcast topic modules are:
— Fitness.
— Lab Safety.
— Newton’s Laws.
— Robots.
— Solar Arrays.
— Spacesuits.
— Sports Demo.

Students can build their own multimedia projects, while teachers meet national education standards.

A companion blog offers tips and suggestions for incorporating the DIY Podcast into the classroom.

To learn more and to start building podcasts, visit


New NASA eClips Videos Available

Check out the new videos that NASA eClips™ has rolled out for August.

Our World: Moons In Our Solar System (Grades K-5) — Did you know astronomers have identified more than 300 moons in our solar system? How big is Ganymede? How small is Deimos? Which moons might have what it takes to support life? Follow the NASA missions to learn about these unique bodies in space.

Real World: Comets – It’s Done With Math (Grades 6-8) — NASA engineers are finding new uses for old spacecraft as a way to study comets. Find out how a repurposed spacecraft can return to a comet for a second visit to uncover secrets about the formation of the solar system. Use angular size to see just how big this comet really is!

Real World: Legacy of NASA’s Space Shuttle – Because It Flew (Grades 6-8) — Use a graph to learn more about the history of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Find out how mission complexity increased over time, leading to new careers and innovations that will launch us into the next stage of space exploration. See how important the shuttle was, just because it flew!

Launchpad: Curiosity Goes to Mars (Grades 9-12) — Find out why Curiosity is the best name for the largest rover ever sent to another planet. Learn about the challenges of landing on a planet with an atmosphere and the geology and chemistry questions scientists hope to answer with instruments on the Mars Science Laboratory.

To learn more about NASA eClips, visit

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Don’t miss out on education-related opportunities available from NASA. For a full list of Current Opportunities, visit

Visit NASA Education on the Web:
For Educators:
For Students:
NASA Kids’ Club: