August 24, 2011
WSGC Newsletter for Educators
The Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium's electronic newsletter for teachers provides curriculum ideas, Internet links and other resources to help you better meet the Washington EALRs and the National Science Education Standards.TABLE OF CONTENTS
-- ZERO ROBOTICS DEADLINE (9-12)
-- DIY PODCASTS (5-12)
-- PSC ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS (PRE-K-8)
-- INVERSE LAW OF LIGHT (6-8)
The deadline for high school teams to register for the 2011 SPHERES Zero Robotics challenge is September 5. Teams write their own algorithm to fly bowling ball-sized spherical satellites aboard the International Space Station.
Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites -- called 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.
Entries will be evaluated using simulations. The top 27 teams will have their code sent to the station, where an astronaut will program the SPHERES satellites to run their tests. For more information, go to
NASA's Do-It-Yourself Podcast is a topical collection of downloadable video and audio clips featuring NASA astronauts, scientists and/or engineers. Teachers and students can mix and mash the video and audio clips to create their own podcasts.
The latest topic is rocket science. Other topics include robots, Newton's laws and fitness. For more information, visit
Pacific Science Center school programs at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center are now registering preschool, elementary and middle school classes. Students investigate soil or aquatic macroinvertebrates in the lab then take a hike and discover the bog, pond and forest habitats of the Mercer Slough Nature Park.
To register call (206) 443-2925. A full list of school programs is available at
We all know that a light, such as a candle or a streetlight, looks dimmer the farther away from it we get. This classroom activity from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) gives an easy way for students to measure the relationship between distance and brightness.
Once students discover the relationship, they can begin to understand how astronomers use this knowledge to determine the distances to stars and far away galaxies. To download the activity, go to
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