Jul 2008: NES Teachers Attend Summer Workshops

How NASA Applies Mathematics for Mission Success

Villeneuve-MSFC08.jpgMs. Villeneuve attended a workshop on applied mathematics held at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, AL. MSFC is the home of the Saturn rockets that took Americans to the moon in the 1960s and 70s and is currently designing and building the Ares rockets that will return humans to the moon and possibly on to Mars.

Ms. Villeneuve toured the facilities at Marshall Space Center and learned from NASA scientists and engineers about the processes involved in the construction of rockets. She met six-time space shuttle astronaut Story Musgrave and Ed Buckbee, the NASA public relations correspondent who worked with the first seven astronauts to fly in space and founder of Space Camp. Ms. Villeneuve gained some new ideas for incorporating science into the math classroom and plans to employ some NASA lessons in her instruction this year. Depending on your class, you can look forward to flying Smart Skies or learning the right ratio of rest, a project about sleep.

Corpuz-JSC08.jpgLiving and Working in Space

Mr. Corpuz attended a workshop at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, TX. JSC is home to the NASA astronaut corps and is responsible for training space explorers from the United States and our space station partner nations.

Mr. Corpuz toured the facilities and learned firsthand what it takes for space explorers to actually function in space. One highlight was seeing the astronauts in full training gear as they were lowered into the water buoyancy lab with divers so that they could prepare for their mission aboard the space station. A new generation of prototype robotic rovers was seen, in addition to touring the mock up of the space shuttle. Mr. Corpuz and fellow teachers designed actual space suits big enough for action figures. The suit was put through a battery of tests to see if it would hold up to radiation, impact, and pressure, essential concerns that space explorers would face. Exciting times are ahead for the upcoming school year. Mr. Corpuz will incorporate some of the dynamic ideas from the workshop into the life science curriculum so students will get a chance to simulate what it would take to live and work in space.

Robotics

Ms. Nguyen and Mr. Ponder attended a workshop at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA. JPL is the home of NASA's robotic explorations. They are responsible for the Spirit, Endeavor and Sojourner rovers on Mars. In May, JPL's Phoenix Lander set down near the north pole of Mars and has discovered water!

At JPL, Mr. Ponder and Ms. Nguyen visited laboratories and learned firsthand from scientists and robotic engineers. They saw exciting cutting-edge work on the next robotic explorers to fly to the moon, Mars and beyond as well as the robots currently in operation in our solar system. They learned that JPL uses Lego and toy erector sets to model the robots they build. They received LEGO Mindstorm Robotics kits, built the robots, and learned how to program their bots to accomplish specific tasks. In addition, they competed in their first Robotics Challenge with other teachers from across the country. Mr. Ponder and Ms. Nguyen will implement their JPL experience into an after school Robotics club. Students in the club will act as junior engineers where they will build and program a robot to accomplish tasks and will compete in the First Annual EHMS Robotics Challenge.

NguyenPonder-JPL08.jpgPonder-JPL08.jpg

Sustainability

Mr. Ishikawa, our NES administrator, visited NASA's Langley Research Center (LRC). LRC was the initial home of the Mercury 7, the first American astronauts. LRC scientists study the atmosphere to improve life here on Earth and to better understand the conditions planes and spacecraft fly through. Langley engineers work on technologies to make civilian and military planers safer, quieter and more efficient, while designing tomorrow's supersonic and even hypersonic aircraft. Langley researchers analyze materials and structures to help spacecraft withstand unforgiving extraterrestrial environments. When swimwear manufacturer Speedo wanted to develop a new faster swimsuit, it called on LRC's expertise in drag reduction.

At this workshop, Mr. Ishikawa was given advice and ideas about how to sustain the NES program once our agreement with NASA formally expires. "Once an Explorer School, always an Explorer School" is the NES mantra and we can continue to consult NASA beyond our three-year agreement. In ourder to sustain the program at or near it's full level, we need community partners. Mr. Ishikawa's workshop provided many ideas and a much broader perspective to help us continue serving our students in the best possible manner.

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