Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Fall 1994

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Table of Contents:


Summer Research Program Yields a Bonanza of Opportunities

Every summer, the abundance of labs on the UW campus means a myriad of opportunities for students, but finding the right research job can be confusing and overwhelming. Some students end up literally going door to door with no idea of what questions to ask, what level of work is required, or even if the faculty member is inclined to hire a student worker. The NASA Space Grant Summer Undergraduate Research Program offers an intelligent solution. Now in its second year, this program identifies capable students, then matches them with professors conducting research in the students' field of interest. Dr. Janice DeCosmo, Space Grant's associate director of science education, said that often a student will "just fit into a niche and really blossom."

Last summer, 23 undergraduates at the UW got a taste of what a career in research is all about. They had a golden chance to not only do original research but to watch scientists in action. For many of the students, "what they did during their summer vacation" has helped them to make critical decisions about the future.

Freshman Myron Chornuk already knows that he wants to be--an astronaut. "Johnson Space Center and Brooks Airforce Base are the most exciting places in the world!" he said. Myron spent the summer studying the effects of high gravity on blood flow distribution to the lungs with UW's Dr. Michael Hlastala. The project directly relates to the training of astronauts and airforce pilots because they run the risk of losing consciousness in high-g conditions. Myron's task was to study the lungs of four thoroughbred race horses. He analyzed each horse for several weeks with the use of fluorescent miscrospheres. In December, he will go to Texas for winter break to join a team at Brooks Airforce Base doing similar experiments on pigs placed under the stress of a centrifuge. Dr. Hlastala reported that his staff had nothing but praise for Myron's work and that "his data was really superb."

After three months in a zoology lab, freshman Kimberley Johnsen came to a definite conclusion: she does not want to do research. Under the supervision of UW's Dr. Robin Wright, she helped a graduate student create DNA dishes to grow yeast. Her work enriched her appreciation for biology, but, at times, she found the tedium of the scientific process exasperating. "I wanted quick results." Kimberley's presence in the lab, Dr. Wright said, brought "very fresh eyes to science." She related a staff discussion about funding. Kimberley had been utterly amazed that there was more to worry about in lab work than just doing the experiments. "We could see ourselves through her eyes." The process, Dr. Wright said, was "energizing and inspiring."

"I learned more about earthquakes and geology than any science class ever taught me," sophomore Greg Craff reported about his summer in UW's seismology lab. He and two other NASA students worked with Bill Steele and Dr. Ruth Ludwin. He was hired, Greg said modestly, as an "amateur computer repair man." In fact, he was far more than just a trouble shooter. Along with refining the memory management of the lab's PCs and holding workshops for the staff on Framework 3.0, he learned to identify earthquakes on helicorder records. By measuring the length of the seismic disturbance on the record, he could determine the size of the earthquake and answer questions on the lab's busy telephone lines. He and his two NASA colleagues came "with a breath of experience," Dr. Ludwin said. "To work with people who are so intelligent and quick to pick things up makes a world of difference."

The NASA Space Grant Summer Undergraduate Research Program is already recruiting students and professors for next year. Those interested in participating in the program should contact the Space Grant Program at 1-800-659-1943, or in the Seattle area, 543-1943.


Washington Space Grant Soars Into its Second Five Years

February 1, 1995 is a banner day for the Washington Space Grant Consortium. It heralds the end of our first five-year grant period from NASA and the beginning of our next five years! Since 1989, the Consortium has grown to include six institutions and two corporate affiliates. We have established many new projects and built a network of key contacts with education, research and industry groups across the state.

Last spring, NASA's National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program asked each of its 52 state programs to critically review the past five years and draft plans for the future. NASA responded favorably to Washington's self-study, and especially praised the growth of the Consortium, the creation of an undergraduate research program, and the development of interdisciplinary curriculum for undergraduate science courses. As a result of this positive rating, the Washington Space Grant Consortium will continue to receive NASA funding through the next five years.

The challenge to the Washington Consortium now is to successfully compete with the other 52 consortia to obtain the highest level of funding during the next grant cycle. To meet this challenge, we will continue to expand upon our current programs and explore new directions. Among our new efforts is a project to bring real-time images from space into the hands of teachers, students, and other community members. The first step will be to establish a network of resource people throughout the state, trained in accessing, viewing, and interpreting these images. We will offer a series of workshops to accomplish this training beginning next spring. In addition, several of our undergraduates' research work next summer will focus on space-based data. We look forward enthusiastically to continued fruitful collaborations with current Consortium members, and welcome inquiries from other organizations interested in joining the Washington Consortium. Thank you to all who participated in the successful evaluation process!


Space Grant Intern Goes to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and has the Time of His Life!

By Gene Fujii, UW Graduate Student
Aeronautics and Astronautics

This summer I participated in a unique summer internship program called the Space Academy at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The Space Academy, in its second year, is a new type of summer program jointly sponsored by Goddard and the Space Grant Colleges. This year there were 24 students from 23 different states selected, and I was lucky enough to attend the program as the Washington Space Grant representative.

Unlike other summer programs, the Space Academy is unique because it combines many different experiences into its program to give students a first hand view of what NASA and the future of the space industry is really like. These experiences included: doing research in a lab, meeting various executives and scientists from NASA and the space industry, visiting other NASA centers and companies, and working on a group project. The following is just a brief description of some of the things I did in the 10 short weeks of the program.

Half of our time was devoted to working in the lab on a research project. Each student was matched with a Principle Investigator from Goddard. I worked on a project to test the feasibility of a radiative cooler made completely of composite materials for the proposed Pluto Fast Flyby Mission. Using composite materials for a radiator was a new and innovative idea that has never been tried before. I had hands-on experience setting up and running the experiments. To simulate the cold temperatures of deep space, we used liquid helium which is at a temperature of about -452 F. We obtained excellent results from our experiments and concluded that radiators made of composite materials are not only effective but very light-weight and strong. It was very exciting for me to work on a real project that has the potential to make a difference.

One of the biggest highlights of the summer was our trip to Florida to view a shuttle launch. All 24 of us and a few staff people piled into three vans and one car and drove 17 hours from Maryland to Florida. The long drive was worth it! We received passes to watch the launch from a VIP viewing area which was 3 miles from the launch tower. It is impossible to describe in words what I saw and how I felt. Seeing, hearing, and even feeling the shuttle lift off into space was one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had.

Another part of Space Academy was to work on a group project. We argued and discussed for many days, before we decided on CLASS (Children Learning About Space Sciences). The main idea of CLASS is to develop a new type of educational activity that uses the Get Away Special (GAS) containers to fly experiments in the shuttle cargo bay. Before I started working on CLASS, I thought it would just be a good learning experience. We presented our ideas to many of NASA's people, who responded with great enthusiasm. Divided into various committees, we devoted a lot of our spare time to the project. It was such a success that, even now, many of us are still working with NASA to try and start a pilot CLASS program.

The best part of the program, however, is the many friends that I made. Although our vacation has ended and we have all gone back to our schools, the Space Academy program, in some sense, is not over. Many of my new friends are still working on the group project, and we continue to stay in touch. There are already plans for a reunion. Who knows, maybe some of us will be running the space program of the future or traveling to Mars together.

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Gene Fujii who won the 1994 Goddard Award for Best Student Researcher!


Space Sprouts, Lost Spacecraft & Robots--
All on UWTV

Space Sprouts: the Final Frontier in Interplanetary Cuisine is just one of the hot topics offered by UWTV(Channel 27). The cable station, formerly UW/Cablearn, features a wide range of programs for the armchair traveler to the stars. Monday through Friday, from midnight to four a.m., UWTV offers exciting reports on past and current shuttle missions and other topics from NASA Select. (The programs can also be seen on Fridays from 9:00 to noon.)

Last December, as a special treat for Hubble Space Telescope fans, UWTV offered two weekends of 24 hour-a-day coverage of the repair mission straight from NASA Select. This spectacular footage was so popular that, with the assistance of Lisa Peterson, Space Grant coordinator, the station showcased three NASA video series in March. Recently, they aired the Discovery Shuttle Mission daily and even preempted their Saturday programs for a new broadcast.

"We're trying to air the NASA missions whenever they occur," Susan Brandt, UWTV operations manager, said. "If you're interested in that and other space-related, high technology programming, we're the place to be." Viewers can select from a potpourri of tantalizing shows in the fields of science, engineering, computing, and multimedia technology, to name a few.

For a program guide, call (206) 685-8827 or send electronic mail to: uwtv@u.washington.edu. UWTV can be viewed by subscribers of cable television throughout the Puget Sound.


Reception Honors the Stars of the Space Grant Program

Amid spirited applause, the 1994 Space Grant scholars walked forward to receive their awards at a reception held September 26 in Kane Hall. The reception honored students receiving undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, as well as participants in the summer research program. To began the awards ceremony, Science Education Associate Director Dr. Janice DeCosmo gave a brief history of the UW NASA Space Grant Program.

Dean Campbell, one of several speakers, urged students to seek out personal contact with their professors. In a rapidly changing world, he said, "the goal is not to get them to tell you what they know--that will soon be obsolete--the goal is to get them to tell you how they learn." Acting Provost Dr. David Thorud welcomed the students to the university. Al Hametner, Boeing College Relations Manager said his company is looking for graduates that are not only skilled in academics but "have a desire to learn for life."

Two of last summer's interns, Gene Fujii and Christy Engan, closed the program with accounts of their recent adventures. After the awards ceremony, students, parents, and faculty had a chance to chat and drink coffee and lemonade in the late afternoon sun.


Astro Adventures is on its Way!

A new curriculum package has literally hit the streets. Since last spring, the Pacific Science Center has been going on the road with their Space Odyssey van to distribute Astro Adventures to schools throughout our state. Funded in part by the NASA Space Grant program, the stunning book was based on years of in-classroom research by authors, Dennis Schatz, Associate Director, and Doug Cooper, Supervisor of Teacher Education, of the Pacific Science Center. The result is 115 pages of ready-to-use lesson plans that grab a kid's imagination and don't let go. Students get a chance to make a sun clock, create a constellation, invent an alien, or study messages from space, among other fun activities.

At each stop of their van as they ride on through the school year, the Pacific Science Center staff gives teachers a start-up workshop, complete with the book, supplies and equipment--such as lamps and Styrofoam balls to do the moon phase simulation. Astro Adventures, Mr. Schatz said, "stands on its own after the van is gone."

The new curriculum is on sale at the Pacific Science Center and through the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Copies are available for check out in our NASA Space Grant library. For more information, please call the Space Grant Program at 1-800-659-1943, or 543-1943 in Seattle, the Pacific Science Center at 443-2001, or the ASP Catalog line: 415-337-2624.


New Hours at Teachers' Resource Center

The NASA Regional Teachers Resource Center (RTRC) has expanded its hours! Weekly hours are 7:30 to 5:00 p.m. daily. Starting September 17, upon popular request, the RTRC will also be open the first and third Saturday of every month from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. Jackie Trump, a teacher at Explorer Middle School, has graciously agreed to volunteer as our Saturday librarian.

Located in 352 Johnson Hall on the UW campus, the center is easy to find. Materials include videos, curricula, books, slides and audiocassettes. Teachers can order by mail, or 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 also available on loan. For a complete catalog, contact the RTRC at 1-800-659-1943, or 543-1943 in Seattle.


Liftoff to Learning and a New School Year!

By Jackie Trump
Explorer Middle School, Everett, Washington

NASA's new Liftoff to Learning series (six episodes) has something for everyone who is looking for a perfect "sparkler" to add to their grade 6-8 science curriculum. I have used this excellent series in my science classroom for two years. My students always enjoy them and are generally motivated to research further on their own.

Each episode contains a printed 3-4 page background with term definitions, a 10-20 minute video with superb graphics which is taught by astronauts on orbit, 3-6 simple activities to demonstrate the concepts presented in the video, additional references, and the biographies of the STS crew featured. Each episode can either stand alone for a mini-unit, or they can all be tied together for a longer, more comprehensive study of what NASA's space missions can teach us.

Episode 1- Space Basics tries to answer four basic questions about space flight. How do spacecraft travel into space? How do spacecraft remain in orbit? Why do astronauts float in space? How do spacecraft return to Earth? (20 minutes)
*The hands-on fun includes: Falling Coffee Cup, Ball and Ribbon, and Satellite Orbit Model.

Episode 2 - Go For Eva discusses the reasons for wearing spacesuits during spacewalking missions, how spacesuits work, and what kinds of jobs astronauts perform while spacewalking. (14 minutes)
*The hands-on fun includes: Potato and Straw, Vacuum Pump Demonstrations.

Episode 3 - Newton in Space demonstrates the importance of Newton's Laws of Motion for space flight. (13 minutes)
*The hands-on fun includes: Soda Pop Can Engine, Rocket Car, and Newton Cart.

Episode 4 - All Systems Go! discusses the reasons for and demonstrates some of the physiologic changes that occur in the human body while in the microgravity environment. (34 minutes--can be shown in two parts.)

Episode 5 - The Atmosphere Below describes how changes in Earth's atmosphere are investigated from outer space onboard shuttle missions. (16 minutes)

Episode 6 - Voyages of Endeavour - Then and Now compares the voyages of the ancient sea-going vessel, Endeavour and the Space Shuttle Endeavour. (10 minutes)

The entire set of curriculum and videos for Liftoff to Learning, can be obtained by sending a blank videotape, and $5.00 for shipping and handling, with your request to: Regional Teacher's Resource Center, University of Washington, AK-50, Seattle, WA 98195

* Space Basics and Newton in Space can be seen on the Discovery Channel's "Assignment Discovery", November 14, and January 2 at 9:00 AM.


New Scholarships for Community College Transfer Students

The Washington Space Grant Scholarship Program has recently opened its doors to any of our state's community college students who plan to continue studies in math, engineering and engineering at the UW.

The new program is aimed at students who have taken nontraditional paths to continue their education. Women, underrepresented minorities, and students with disabilities are encouraged to apply. This year, our two recipients have come to the UW, having traveled far distances, both in body and mind.

Jorge Chavez arrived at A.C. Davis High School in Yakima from Mexico, nine years ago, with virtually no working English. By the time he graduated, Jorge had worked through all the math and science classes offered at Davis and most of the classes available to him at the local community college. He attended YVCC for two years where he served as a tutor for math, chemistry and physics. He was also a translator for the school district, helping parents and teachers to communicate. Jorge received a one-year book scholarshiip to attend the UW and plans to pursue an engineering degree.

Daniel Steward, a fisherman home from the sea, enrolled at Seattle Central Community College two years ago. Following a brief stint of college after graduating from high school in 1981, Dan left to work in a variety of jobs, including commercial fishing in Alaska. "Nothing I did," he recalled, "gave me any feeling of accomplishment." In 1988, the salmon boat he was crewing on sank. The experience was a turning point--he decided to go back to school. Intent on excelling, Dan made the Dean's List for two years at SCCC. He also received the American Chemical Society's Award for most outstanding student in organic chemistry. With an eye on a career in medicine, he volunteers at several area hospitals. Daniel received a partial tuition scholarship for one year and plans to earn a degree in biochemistry.

Applications for next year's scholarships are due on January 31, 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 at 1-800-659-1943, or in the Seattle area at 543-1943.


Space Grant Mini-Grants, a Ticket to a Tour of the Unknown

For the Space Grant staff, fall brings the quickening of the air and also some fascinating reading as K-12 teachers from all over the state send in their final mini-grant reports. The reports often include: photos of young astronauts or scientists in action; newspaper clippings; and crayon drawings ("Dear NASA...study my rocket.") In January, the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction gave grants to 103 teachers. The grants were awarded in amounts of up to $250, and were matched with funds from school districts and other sources. As always, Washington's teachers put their funds to good use, and introduced their students to worlds they'd never seen before.

On Whidbey Island, at South Whidbey High School, a group of rookie marine biologists and their teacher set out to resolve a local controversy. Was water skiing destroying the ecosystem of nearby Deer Lake? The group's mission: to assess the damage. Their leader, Carl Westling, purchased state-of-the-art water testing equipment with funds provided by Space Grant and other sources. Over a two month period, he and his high-schoolers visited the lake every two weeks to conduct tests at three different sites on the lake. Working as a team, the students tested the lake's pH, carbon dioxide, dissolved oxygen, nitrates and phosphates, etc. A plankton net came in handy to study minute animals.

By June, the results were in. The BIO-team's data proved that despite the water skiing, Deer Lake is still very healthy. The students' work was presented to the Deer Lake Homeowners Association as a base line for future study. Next year, Carl Westling and his aquatic biology class will be back to conduct more tests on the lake.

In Colville, students at Hofstetter Elementary got to see what a hair really looks like. Just in time for the summer session, three new microscopes arrived. These tickets to a tour of the unknown were provided by a Space Grant mini-grant and a matching grant from the school district. The local high-school pitched in and donated six used microscopes. Operation CELL SEARCH was on its way.

In June, teacher Jamie Rehn opened the door to a world of miniature life to an enthralled group of explorers, ages 7 to 12. In one lesson, they were asked to fill a container with water from a nearby fish hatchery and predict what might be in there. The kids loved their samples. It became a major infraction to touch another's pond water. As the summer went on, the eager viewers made ongoing lists, describing items and life forms viewed. Operation CELL SEARCH was a success and will continue throughout the school year.

According to David Hirdler of Madison Elementary in Mount Vernon--in a 4th grade classroom, beakers will occasionally hit the floor. He used his mini-grant and matching funds to restock the school's old science kits. The new beakers and thermometers made it easier for him to introduce his students to the wonders of hands-on physics. This year, his class explored heat and states of matter. They learned to use lab equipment, to measure, and honed their math skills. Last Spring, Mr. Hirdler taught other teachers how to teach physics in a class at Western Washington University. "Holding a dozen teachers' attention for 30 hours is not always easy," he recalled. The new science kits came in handy.

It is after midnight on June 4, 1994. The third-graders in Edna Dillard's class at Bellevue's Enatai Elementary are spending the night at school to complete pre-launch activities for a simulated rocket launch the next day. Till 3:00 a.m., these young astronauts will plot their space travels on a hand-made map of the moon, do experiments, suit up to go on EVAs (extravehicular activity), deploy robots, and talk on walkie-talkies to Mission Control. None of them are bored. When some of the fathers drop by to say good-night, they end up staying for two hours.

The dynamo behind this infectious educational fun is Edna Dillard, who last year, on her first try was chosen to attend the competitive NASA NEWEST workshop. The class launch was a kind of a graduation for the 3rd graders after a year of space study. To music from The Planets (G. Holst), the 8 foot tall Enatai rocket appeared to blast off in clouds of smoke. Next year, Ms. Dillard and her students are going to Mars.


NASA Space Grant Scholarship: The Chance of a Lifetime"

Once again, high school seniors with a passion and aptitude for science, engineering, or math are invited to go for the gold, a NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Scholarship. They will be competing with an elite group of some of the best young minds in our state. Applications for next year's scholarships are due on January 13, 1995. 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 at 1-800-659-1943, or in the Seattle area at 543-1943.