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Monday, June 8, 2015

A "NASA Teacher" Year in Review- What Else Can We do?


Ok, I still have tons of things to create and share based on my NASA experiences this year, but in order for more people to incorporate the world of NASA into their lessons, I'm going to do a quick overview with ideas here.

First I will briefly identify the 3 NASA events I was present at this year:

1. NASA SMAP Satellite- (Soil Moisture Active Passive) - Launched in January 2015, this satellite orbits the earth and measures soil moisture. It has many uses but can help identify areas susceptible to drought.  It will also help see the connection between water cycles, energy cycles, and carbon cycles.

Info. I "reported' on- Mission control rooms, meeting Director Bolden, witnessing the roll back of the rocket, touring cold war missile sites and museums, attending the events of the initial launch trial, etc.

Below is link about SMAP- includes information on its mission, data collection, and educational ideas:

SMAP Link from JPL

2. NASA Journey to Mars- This fall, the Orion was launched, to test the craft that will someday take people into deep space, and to test it's reentry. In March, the largest SLS rocket booster to EVER fire took place in Utah. This will be the rocket booster that will send such craft into space.

Info. I reported on- how and where they make the propellent and rocket parts, interviewing astronauts about the mission to mars, meeting the rocket scientists, attending the test firing, etc.

Below are links to the NASA report on the test firing and the overall Journey to Mars mission:

NASA SLS test firing article

NASA Journey to Mars

3. Pluto Fly By- After it's launch in 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft will finally pass by Pluto in mid-July and provide us with awesome images of Pluto (and its moons) along with other valuable data before it continues on into the Kuiper Belt.

Info. I reported on- the clean rooms where New Horizons and other spacecraft were constructed, mission control rooms, meeting the Missions Operations Manager, scientists, engineers, etc.

Below is a link on New Horizons :
NASA New Horizons link


Soooo, with all this information, what can we do moving forward?
1. Work with Stanford Student Space Initiative
As we transfer to a "SSI school" - there are things that we can start doing next year- such as test our own weather balloons! How can we do this with an interdisciplinary approach?

Below is a link on Stanford SSI, to give you a background on what amazing things they are doing that we would like to become a part of:

SSI link

2. Take advantage of other NASA programs/lessons that already exist.
NASA already has many examples of lesson plans, as well as professional development available for teachers. Below is a link to their education site.

Link to NASA education site

Besides NASA, the Space Foundation has excellent resources and programs for teachers. This site is definitely worth checking out as well:

Space Foundation Link


3. Identify future areas of study- encourage students to participate.
I will be receiving info. on what "major" events (launches, landings, etc.) that will occur during the next school year. Are there ways we can incorporate this into our lessons?

NASA also encourages students to participates in experiments and data collections. Schools have already launched CubeSats into outer space. Why can't we?

4. Other cool tools to use:
Eyes on the Solar System- A program with a "video game" feel. This allows students to become "armchair" explorers while sparking curiosity. A big fan of many students:
Link to Eyes on Nasa
Pluto Time- A cool thing NASA is doing. Since Pluto is so far away, it receives very little sunlight. NASA provided this site where depending on your time and location, you can determine when is your sunlight comparable to "Pluto Time." NASA is asking for people to send in pics (yes, selfies) taken during Pluto Time to be put into a big mosaic. Students love this kind of thing!
Link to Pluto Time

5.  Let's Talk about it!
Yes, I've become a NASA nerd this year. My apologies if my new found passion has become annoying, but the truth is, there is SO MUCH out there for us to take advantage of. Even better, so many people in this area are willing to offer their assistance to us.I've already had students receive "homework help" from NASA heads of booster integration, social affairs liaisons, and museum curators.
 Even better than even better, students have seen a cross-curriclum approach that I think they're really benefitted from.  I think if we can take this to a new level, we would be thrilled to see what the students come up with.
 If you have ideas, questions, etc., for me, please let me know. It's literally a whole new world out there, and nothing would be more awesome than if together, we guided our students through it!


Pluto Fly By- Part 3- The NASA TV Show!


After the two parts of our tour were complete, we had boxed lunches with all of the other members.

Not to be overlooked, these lunches are another part of NASA Socials.  Here we can interact with other members, and other parts of the NASA team. This lunch in particular I was privileged to interact with chemistry college students, VMI grads, and NASA scientists.  As we share ideas and experiences my brain always starts churning "How can I incorporate these ideas into our classrooms"? If you hear the term "white paper" next year- know it was from this lunch!

After lunch we reassembled in the Central Spark room (an innovation station) for the viewing. I took some pictures I will share later of the cameras that maybe our VPA students would like to look at.  The show was once wonderful as we learned more about NASA New Horizons first hand from NASA managers, scientists, and engineers. I took a few video clips that I will put together on YouTube over the next few days. If you want the professional full-length version, here is a link to it below .

A NASA nerd's dream come true, I was able to ask a question to Dr. Alan Stern about how this mission relates to what we are learning in our world history and global studies classes.  Below is the link on his wikipedia biography.

Link to Dr. Stern Biography

Note #1: During lunch he introduced himself, and I learned that he has a Jersey connection! (His wife lived in North Caldwell, go New Jersey!)

Note: #2: While the entire show is worth viewing, if you would like to see my question for Dr. Stern, it is at about the 41 minute part of the show.

NASA Tv- Pluto Fly By- Starring Your Awesome History Teacher

Now if you want the cliff notes version of the show, here are my tweets on it. I will admit, NASA Social retweeted about a dozen of my tweets that day. In the world of social media, that's pretty cool!

  1.   retweeted
    - great to see you supporting for our .
  2.   retweeted
    . checking out the model during the break
  3.   retweeted
    Starts at 1:00 EDT, less than an hour from now, on . Watch online, streaming, or on cable/satellite.