Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Spring 1993

Expanding Frontiers is a publication of Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. To join our mailing list, please send us an e-mail with your request.

Table of Contents:


Space Grant Mini-grants Help Fund Real Science Students Can Do

A mini-grant can ignite a young person's interest in science. In January, the UW NASA Space Grant Program and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction started the countdown by awarding 62 mini-grants. A total of $14,296 was given to K-12 teachers in Washington to enrich science curricula in their classrooms. The mini-grants were awarded in amounts of up to $250.00, and were matched with funds from school districts and other sources. Classes with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students or under-represented minorities were given preference.

High school students in Central Valley have carried their love of science back to their elementary schools as Elementary Associate Teachers of Science. Developed by the staff in the Central Valley Schools, the E.A.T.S. program is a chance for highschoolers to teach science and perform demonstrations in the 13 elementary schools in Central Valley. Funded by the school district, a Space Grant mini-grant and other sources, the project has taken off like a rocket since it began in 1989. Some 85 sophomores and juniors are now "certified." Their training includes after school classes, designing a lesson with a team partner, extensive practice at home, and a final exam.

Finally, the team has a pre-lesson conference with the elementary teacher, and then the main event. At the demonstrations, "elementary kids see the high school kids, and they idolize them," said Nels Pittoti, the high school biology and chemistry teacher. E.A.T.S. is popular, he said, because it helps elementary students and their teachers realize that science can be fun.

Mike Ellison and John Akers of Vancouver's Evergreen High are using their grant and a matching grant from their school to purchase a TV encoder device that will allow them to display the screen of a color Macintosh computer screen on a large TV. This will open up vistas of learning for entire classrooms rather than for the two or three students that can see a small screen. With a computer cart also supplied by the mini-grant, the teachers can wheel the mobile computer system from class to class so that 10th - 12th graders in Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, and Biology can all benefit. With image processing software supplied free from the National Institute of Health, classes will count the volcanoes on Io, map the rate of old-growth forest destruction from Landsat images, or measure how fast a hurricane is moving. "One of the most exciting things about image processing is that it's real science students can do," Mr. Ellison said.

A Space Grant mini-grant to Barbara Reddekopp of Clarkston resulted in the design and construction of space stations using LEGO/Logo---legos that can move with computer commands. Ms. Reddekopp's 4th graders at Grantham Elementary also decorated and dressed soft-boiled eggs as astronauts. The 'astronauts' were strapped into landing vehicles designed out of legos, egg cartons, Styrofoam, kleenex, and whatever worked. Each child climbed a ladder, dropped their landing vehicle and then checked for 'astronaut' survival. "I am happy to report that all the astronauts in Room 11 lived to tell about their trip," Mrs. Reddekopp wrote in her year end report. In fact, she said, the drop was so successful that two of her 4th graders went to Clarkston High School to demonstrate their landing vehicles.

Another Space Grant mini-grant to Ann Hursey of the Intermediate School will help to fund a global sundial experiment between three elementary schools in Seattle, Alaska, and Malaysia. Students will measure and record the length of the sun's shadows and then send their results by fax to their sister schools around the world. Other mini-grants included: the creation of science kits and carts, the purchase of laserdisks and Mission to Mars software, funds for science fairs, studies of streams and lakes, star parties hosted at night for students and parents, and field trips to the Challenger Learning Center, the Museum of Flight and Puget Sound.

Applications for next year's mini-grants will be sent out in early November. Please contact the Space Grant Program office at 1-800-659-1943 or 206-543-1943 in Seattle to get on our mailing list.


Peer Outreach Takes College Students Back to High School to Teacher Science

The Space Grant Peer Outreach Program had its debut performance on Friday, March 19, at Kentridge High School in Kent. Kate Hutterer and Christy Engan, two UW sophomores, taught Vince Howard's chemistry class. The topic was the greenhouse effect and its importance on Mars, Venus, and Earth. Kate and Christy gave a presentation illustrated by NASA slides of the planets, original graphics, and a physics demonstration. The undergrads had also prepared handouts with suggestions for discussion and activities.

The goal of the outreach activities is to "spark an interest in science, not just to disseminate information," said Dr. Janice DeCosmo, Space Grant Science Education Coordinator. By sending college students back to their high schools to teach timely topics, Dr. DeCosmo hopes to "draw more kids to science."

Kate and Christy began preparing for the big day in Kent by spending 12 - 15 hours a week last summer conducting research on the atmospheres of the three planets, compiling data, writing, and editing. Along with accruing wages, the two became experts on Mars, Venus and the greenhouse effect. In February, they spent countless hours in rehearsal to hone and refine their materials, and by March, they were ready. The duo will continue to present the unit to area high schools throughout the school year.

"I enjoyed reading about chemistry and physics and being able to apply knowledge I learned in the classroom to something real," Kate said.

Kentridge High School is old stomping grounds for Christy; two years ago she graduated from there. Going back was "kind of weird...(it was) almost like a different school," she mused. As part of the lecture, she demonstrated the way infrared radiation interacts with various materials using a heat lamp on pieces of glass, plastic and aluminum foil. "Most of the students hadn't been introduced to what I was talking about, so it was very effective." She laughed. "The students made all the correct observations."

The class instructor, Mr. Howard, gave his review. "I watched it myself. I thought they had a good presentation." He added that he hopes the two students will come back later this spring.

Students who are interested in traveling to area high schools as part of the Peer Outreach Program, or teachers who would like to schedule a lecture for their classroom, can contact Dr. Janice DeCosmo at (206) 685-8542.


Regional Educator Resource Center Brings NASA Programs Closer to Home

The number of teachers served by our NASA Regional Teachers Resource Center (RTRC) has rapidly increased. Since opening our doors in the Fall of 1991, the response has been steadily growing, and now, the word is out. From home schools to K-12 to the college level, more and more teachers are discovering our wide selection of NASA-developed programs on subjects such as space flight, astronomy, aeronautics and earth resources.

Located in 352 Johnson Hall on the UW campus, the resource center is open by appointment 8:00-5:00 Monday through Friday. Materials include videos, curricula, books, slides, and audiocassettes. Materials are available by mail, or teachers can make an appointment to visit. Copies of NASA programs are available for duplication at cost, i.e., by providing blank film or tapes. Resource books are available on loan. For a complete catalog, contact the RTRC at 1-800-659-1943, or 543-1943, in Seattle.


New Graduate Fellows Selected

In March 1993 the UW NASA Space Grant Program awarded five two-year graduate Fellowships for the academic years 1993-1995. Each Space Grant Fellow received a research assistantship, and an additional stipend of $500 per quarter. The Fellows were chosen from colleges across the nation. They join an elite group of graduate students who have been recognized for having outstanding research potential and high academic records. This is the fourth round of fellowships to be awarded since the Space Grant Program began at the University.

Competition for these Fellowships is open to all US citizens whose affinity for science or engineering has led them into higher learning and advanced research. Women and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply. The goal of this program is to attract to the university some of the most gifted graduate students in the country.

The 1993 Fellows are listed here, including department, and research topic:

Masada Disenhouse, Chemistry
Intermolecular Forces, energy transfer and theoretical investigations of the structure and properties of fluids

Leslie English, Mechanical Engineering
Materials Research, especially biomechanics and prosthetics

Barbara Fisher, Civil Engineering
Hazardous waste management

Brooke Patterson, Astronomy
Experimental and Observational Astronomy


From Stellar Jets to Climate Change

Now in its fifth year, Geophysics 425 was off to a jump start Spring Quarter with Scientific Results from Hubble Space Telescope: Don't Believe Everything You Read in the Newspapers. The lecture by Professor Bruce Margon of the UW Astronomy Department started off a ten week series on new discoveries in space and global climate change.

Offered by the UW NASA Space Grant Program, the 1-credit class is a chance for undergraduate and graduate students to learn about intriguing research currently being done by scientists and engineers right on the UW campus. With topics ranging from stellar jets to global modelling, the popular course attracted 90 students this spring and is also open to the public. Space Grant Science Education Coordinator Dr. Janice DeCosmo introduces the speakers and facilitates the class.


New Space Grant Undergraduate Summer Research Program

The Space Grant Undergraduate Research Program provides a chance for UW undergrads to gain hands-on experience by working in a professor's lab on a project related to professional research.

In January, UW freshman, J Harper, began working in the Rocket Science Lab in Johnson Hall. He worked up to 10 hours a week helping to assemble balloon payloads for a rocket launch. This spring, he will be working on the next balloon payload and continuing to learn the basics of rocket science.

"We are careful to match a student with a professor who will give the student tasks that are interesting and significant," said Space Grant Science Education Coordinator Dr. Janice Decosmo. She added that hands-on work can help undergrads in making career choices and in competing for jobs after graduation.


New Classes on Quakes, Weather, and Global Climate Change

A new summer course especially designed for middle and high school teachers will be offered by Dr. Janice DeCosmo and Professor Mike Brown of the UW Geophysics Program. The 4-week class is divided into two segments on meteorology and geology. The first half of the class will use lab activities, field trips and lectures to explore the physics behind weather phenomena and forecasting, and current research topics such as greenhouse warming. The second half entitled Quakes! includes Northwest tectonics, seismic waves, the construction of a shake table, and field trips to Bainbridge Island and the Northwest Coast.

The course will be of special interest to general science and Earth science teachers from middle and high schools. Elementary teachers and others may register with the permission of the instructors.

Scholarships are being offered through the UW NASA Space Grant Program. Geophysics 480A carries 4 graduate credits and is offered Term A only, June 21 - July 21, 1993. For more information and an application for a scholarship, please contact Lisa Peterson at the Space Grant office at 1-800-659-1943 or in the Seattle area at 543-1943.

This fall, Dr. DeCosmo will also teach a new evening course on global climate change at Seattle Central Community College. The 5 credit introductory level class will cover the basic physics necessary to understand the Earth's climate and the greenhouse effect, and will highlight the work of local researchers on this topic.


1993 Undergraduate Scholarship Awards

210 high school seniors vied for the UW NASA Space Grant scholarships this year. In January, applications poured in from all over the state, a richly talented group of seniors with an aptitude for science, math, or engineering and a passion for success. Their goal? A full four year scholarship at the University of Washington (UW). With so many top scholars competing, the selection was extremely difficult. The selections were based on the students' transcripts, teacher recommendations, personal essays, and academic aspirations. Women and underrepresented minorities were strongly encouraged to apply. In February, the selection committee narrowed the pool of applicants down to 28 finalists. In March, the finalists and their parents came to the UW for a full day of interviews and campus tours.

The announcement was made at the end of March. The 1993 Space Grant Scholars are listed here, including award amount and high school:

Tuition + $3,500 a year for four years
Fulcanelli Chavez, Othello High School, Othello
Alysha Reinard, Kelso High School, Kelso

Two years tuition
Jasper Halekas, Omak High, Omak
Quang Luu, Anacortes High, Anacortes

$1,000 a year for 4 years
Sungeeta Jain, Ingraham High, Seattle

One year tuition
Giselle de Sam Lazaro, Pullman High
Sherrie Hildreth, Roosevelt High, Seattle
Patrick Lee, Eisenhower High, Yakima
Daniel Linville, Shorecrest High School, Seattle
Victoria Vaughn, Redmond High School, Redmond

$450 book scholarship
Mark Manca, Garfield High, Seattle
Lucas Mix, Garfield High, Seattle
Kara Nakata, Bainbridge High, Bainbridge Island

Applications for the scholarships are due in our office on January 15, 1994. All that is required to nominate a student is a phone call to our office. Students are also encouraged to call. For applications or questions, please contact the Space Grant Program office at 1-800-659-1943 or in the Seattle area at 543-1943.


New Astronomy Workshop for Teachers at the Pacific Science Center

The final version of the NASA Space Grant funded curriculum from the Pacific Science Center will be ready this summer. It will be the basis of a two week long astronomy workshop for teachers presented at the Pacific Science Center from July 26 through August 6, 1993 (1:30 pm to 4:30 pm, M-F). Each participant will receive the curriculum, plus a full set of teaching materials that make it easy to implement the curriculum in the classroom. Participants will receive graduate level credit from the University of Washington. More information about the course and how to register is available by calling Ellen Polsky at the Pacific Science Center at (206) 433-2922.


WSU in the Highlands of the Moon

Teachers were asked to count craters on the moon in a workshop offered the fall of 1992 by Dr. Thomas Lutz and Dr. Jack Horne of Washington State University (WSU). In the seven week class, the elementary school teachers were divided into two groups, beginning and advanced. The teachers all learned hands-on methods of teaching astronomy to take back to their schools. Using large lunar photographs from the Kuiper Atlas, they counted craters in the highlands of the moon. They were then shown a set of slides of the cratering of the planets in the rest of the solar system.

*In other classes, the teachers practiced reading sundials using simple wooden versions, made so that they could hold sheets of loose-leaf paper. The shadow caster (gnomon) on each was a map tack on top of a peg (which fits into the center hole on the loose-leaf paper). If the map tack is 1.75 inches above the plywood board, the shadows cast, at latitude 47 degrees, will stay on the 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper during the school day throughout the year. The teachers were given the sundials to use in the classrooms. The benefit of the loose-leaf paper is that each student can collect their own data, independently of the rest of the class.

Since many students are not familiar with the seasons in the southern hemisphere, the instructors asked the teachers to keep track of the temperatures in the northern and southern hemispheres. The teachers used local newspapers, and many enlisted their own students, assigning them to bring in the temperatures every Monday morning. This turned into a geography lesson for the students as well.

The advanced group of teachers came back for an extra evening and all day session to put together kits, complete with all materials needed for eleven major astronomy exercises. The kits will be used in their classrooms. Dr. Horne, one of the instructors, says that approximately 1100 children will benefit from their teachers having attended the workshop. For more information, contact Dr. Jack Horne at (509) 335-2452.


Hands-on Space Science at the Museum of Flight

The Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded by the families of the crew members lost in the Challenger tragedy. The center's core faculty are many of the teachers who were NASA Teacher in Space finalists for their states. On Friday and Saturday, July 23 - 24, 1993, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Challenger Center will host the Pacific Northwest Teacher Conference.

Designed to help elementary and middle school teachers become familiar with space science, the workshops will include the building of a cosmic village on Mars, and a comprehensive look at a set of hands-on lesson plans, entitled "Touching the Future: Linking the Classroom with Space." On Saturday afternoon, teachers will visit the Challenger Learning Center, a 1,500 square foot simulator where they will be able to work much as a real astronaut crew does. They will conduct experiments in a mission scenario that requires each member of the team to rely on each other.

Among the invited speakers at the conference are: Phil Christianson, Principal Investigator of the Thermal Emission Spectrometer for the Mars Observer Facility; Carol Stadum of the Planetary Society, who will talk about MarsLink; Dr. George "Pinky" Nelson, former astronaut, now associate professor of Astronomy at the UW; and Mr. Jim Noblitt, Vice President, Boeing Missiles and Space, head of the Space Station Project for Boeing at Huntsville.

For further information, contact Pam Peterson at the Challenger Center for Space Science Education at (703) 683-9740.


SPACE GRANT NEWS

Free Telescope Kit

A free newsletter on teaching astronomy for K-12 is now available through the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The Universe in the Classroom showcases a variety of topics such as exploding stars, the Big Bang, the search for life elsewhere, and the exploration of the planets. The newsletter also features hands-on activities and is designed to help teachers include more astronomy in their lesson plans. To order, use your school stationery and identify the grade level you teach. Contact the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Teacher's Newsletter, Dept. N, 390 Ashton Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112.

Global Environmental Courses

A workshop for middle-school teachers, sponsored by NSF and Sea Grant, will take place August 2-20 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon. Participants will meet with researchers and learn firsthand about global environmental change investigations. They'll be able to take back to their classrooms current information on threats to the world's environment and ways of adapting the subjects to the classroom setting.

Research presentations will be followed by hands-on activities conducted by master middle school teachers and updated information on the use of computer networks and satellite broadcast systems. Support includes $60/day stipend, travel from your home to Newport, and housing during the three-week workshop. Applications are available from Washington Sea Grant at (206) 543-6600.

Getting comfortable Teaching With Space

The United States Space Foundation is offering a 5-day graduate course for K-12 teachers at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. This course teaches educators, including those who do not have a technical background, how to infuse space and aviation concepts into all areas of the curriculum and stimulate student achievement. Attendees take microgravity training underwater, build and launch rockets and experience orbital mechanics exercises. Lesson plans developed by educators feature hands-on activities and are directly applied to the K-12 curriculum.