Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Winter 1996

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Table of Contents:

Space Grant Students Find Their Place in the Spotlight

This fall, three Space Grant students received recognition for their hard work and the thrill of a lifetime by presenting their work at prestigious conferences around the country.

In December, Alysha Reinard and Valerie Peyton, Space Grant scholarship recipients and undergraduate physics majors, flew to San Francisco. The two juniors presented their research findings at the American Geophysical Union conference (AGU). Last year 6,500 scientists in all fields of space and earth science attended this prestigious annual conference.

Alysha's 10 minute talk featured research that she began in the Space Grant summer undergraduate research program. For over two years, she has been studying microbursts, a phenomenon which occurs in auroras. Her paper, Simultaneous Observations of Electron and X-ray Microburst Precipitation, was co-authored by five others, faculty and graduate students, who work with her in the UW Geophysics Department.

Valerie Peyton presented a poster with Prof. Bob Odom of the Applied Physics Lab. She began working with him last summer as a Space Grant undergraduate researcher. Their poster, "Diffusivity of Elastic Waves," was based on six months of research on underwater acoustics.

Myron Chornuk, a UW senior in Aeronautics and Astronautics, flew to Washington DC in October to present a paper at the American Society of Gravitational and Space Biology Conference. His paper was based on his work in NASA's Space Life Sciences Training Program at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) last summer. NASA is currently developing a biogenerative life support system there to provide food, water and oxygen to crew members on long duration space missions. Myron developed a mathematical model of gas exchange in such a system.

Upon returning home, Alysha, Valerie and Myron were brimming with excitement about their experiences.

Introducing Mary Edmunds, the New Space Grant Coordinator

Mary Edmunds started work on December 11 and has been enlivening the Space Grant office ever since. She describes joining the program as coming home.

"There is an ease and enthusiasm among the staff here that is rare and quite wonderful!" Mary's background is in geology and environmental science and she's finding that "it's great to talk shop with those who share a common interest."

In the past, the new coordinator has been a teacher and an editor. Most recently, she was a student advisor for UW's Industrial Engineering program. She likes working with students because of "the way they look at the world" and because "they're actively involved in what's going on."

Mary is an avid environmentalist and was active in Bay Area politics as a lobbyist. Originally from California, she has lived for short periods in the South and the East before moving here four years ago. "The sunsets drew me back to the West."

To relax, she likes to listen to music. "Although I prefer classical, any kind will do." "In fact," she said, smiling, "sometimes rock, jazz, or blues are even better!" Now a confirmed Northwesterner, Mary hikes and kayaks whenever possible and in the city, likes to attend theater, opera or symphony.

She likes her new job. She's enthusiastic about the Space Grant program and loves the variety of her responsibilities. "This office is a very active place to be!" Every day she finds herself "communicating about fascinating areas of science and interacting with a very diverse student body and great staff and faculty." Mary said she is excited about coming to work in the morning.

Space Grant Student Wins International Award

Alysha Reinard, a Space Grant and Sigurd Olsen Endowed Scholarship recipient, recently received an Outstanding Student Paper Award for the Fall 1995 American Geophysical Union Conference (AGU). Alysha's paper was selected out of 106 entries as one of the top ten student papers presented this year. She was competing primarily with graduate students from all over the world. It is unprecedented that a junior would receive such a prestigious award.

Her paper, Simultaneous Observations of Electron and X-ray Microburst Precipitation, featured research that she began in the Space Grant summer undergraduate program. For over two years, Alysha has been studying microbursts, a phenomenon which occurs in auroras. Her paper was co-authored by five others, faculty and graduate students who work with her in the UW Geophysics Department.

"Sometimes the particles that come from the sun come into the atmosphere in bursts of half of second," Alysha said in a recent interview. "These are called microbursts. We don't know why they happen but we're trying to find out."

Alysha plans to continue her research and will also begin studying solar wind data obtained from the WIND satellite. She currently studying with Space Grant Director George Parks. After graduating with a physics degree next year, Alysha plans to attend graduate school in Space Physics.

Space Grant Course is Popular with Students

Now in its seventh year, the NASA Science and Engineering Undergraduate Research Seminar (Geophysics 425) is a lecture series that just keeps packing them in. Last spring, 100 students enrolled.

Myron Chornuk, a UW senior in Aeronautics and Astronautics has taken the class twice and may take it again in the spring. Why? He likes the variety of topics. "I like to get a taste of what's out there--to sit back and take it all in." Khiem Nguyen, a junior in Mechanical Engineering, enrolled two years ago and still vividly recalls Astronomy Prof. Bruce Margon's update on the Hubble Space Telescope. "It's a chance to see some of the most current research done on campus!"

Offered by the UW NASA Space Grant Program, this 1-credit class gives space enthusiasts and other learners a window on an exciting and often esoteric world. Each year, scientists and engineers from the UW campus and elsewhere come to enthrall lecture audiences. This year's theme is Rocks and Stars. The popular lectures are also open to the public and are presented on Thursdays from 2:30 to 3:20 p.m. in 301 Miller Hall through May 25.

For more information, please call the Space Grant Program at 1-800-659-1943, or in the Seattle area at 543-1943.

Seminar is a Stay Awake Guarantee

Now in it third year, Education 473 is a unique seminar featuring a rousing examination of science learning through inquiry methods at the K-12 level. Past participants have included UW faculty, K-12 teachers, and UW students from many departments on the campus. Astronomy Profs. Bruce Balick and Space Grant Associate Director Pinky Nelson are the organizers.

"In the spirit of a seminar, everyone talks and listens, instructs and learns, argues, speculates, and suggests." Balick said. "Pinky and I focus on a topic, provoke a discussion, and then join in the melee that follows."

The class covers topics such as the proposed national science learning standards and their efficacy. This year, the students will experiment with developing inquiry-based science labs that will work in the classroom. "Everyone's views will be brought to bear on what's right, what's wrong, what works, and what doesn't work."

Education 473 (Stars: #2736) will be offered this spring for credit /non-credit only, on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information, please call the Space Grant Program at 1-800-659-1943, or in the Seattle area at 543-1943.

Teachers Explore Clouds and Quakes in Dynamic Hands-on Class

Steph Rodmyre, a 7th and 8th grade teacher at Holy Trinity in Des Moines, didn't always feel comfortable with the weather. This fall, he taught an entire weather unit based on activities he had designed in NASA's Space Grant's Meteorology and Geology for Teachers Course last summer. Rodmyre, who just started teaching science again after a hiatus of several years, is all set to begin exploring volcanoes and earthquakes with his students this spring. He credits his confidence to Geophysics 480A.

"The atmosphere of the class was very relaxed, very give-and-take, just a very pleasant experience!" 8th grade teacher Donna DeNoble agreed. "It was not your typical class for teachers. It really stretched me. It took everything I knew before and made it clearer." She added that one of the key benefits of the course was learning to use the Internet. Now she has places to go with her questions and more up-to-date resources for the earth systems class she teaches at Orting Middle School.

Now in its fourth year, this practical 4-credit course is designed for middle school and intermediate level elementary teachers of science and earth science but is open to all educators. Teachers explore the physics behind weather and seismic waves along with related topics.

The compact summer institute is offered for four weeks during Term A of Summer Quarter, June 24 - July 19, 1996, Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 to 12:30 p.m. on the UW campus. Also known as CLOUDS and QUAKES, the class features: hands-on lab sessions, curriculum development and presentation, visits by local scientists, use of the Internet, and field trips to Bainbridge Island and the Northwest Coast.

"It's a chance for teachers to enrich their understanding of meteorology and geology in an interactive learning environment," one of the instructors, Dr. Janice DeCosmo, said. "As a strong believer in inquiry-based science teaching, I try to model an approach to science teaching that may help stimulate their students' interest and enhance their learning."

DeCosmo teaches the CLOUDS half of the class and is currently the Associate Director of Science Education for the Washington NASA Space Grant and a Research Assistant Professor in the Geophysics Program at the UW. She also teaches Atmospheric Sciences 101 through UW Extension and Global Climate Change at Seattle Central Community College.

Dr. Mike Brown is responsible for lessons on QUAKES and has taught geophysics and geology as a professor at the University of Washington since 1984. He has taught the required earth science course for students working on their teaching credential in secondary science education and has participated in science curriculum development workshops in the Shoreline school district.

This year, Washington Space Grant will once again award 10 full scholarships to attend CLOUDS and QUAKES, a lively and engaging professional experience. The funds are given on a first-come, first-served basis and cover 4 credits of tuition (undergraduate or graduate at the student's choice), the meteorology and seismology textbooks, and other course materials. For an application, please contact the Space Grant office at 1-800-659-1943 or in the Seattle area at 206-685-8542.

World Wide Web: Two New On-line Science Curricula


When a class of 5th graders at Silverlake Elementary in Federal Way came to school recently, their teacher, Glenn Spinnie, told them that they would be the first kids in the world to see what they were about to see. Spinnie's classroom had been selected for a pilot test of Live from Earth and Mars, a new science curriculum for the World Wide Web which is sponsored by NASA. That morning, the students did their first lesson. Using the lightning fast capabilities of the Web, they looked up data on earth soils and made predictions about soil on Mars.

"The kids were really involved, "Spinnie said. "It was exciting for them."

The soil lesson was written by educators like Spinnie and others for a project based at the UW. For the past few months, scientists, educators and computer experts have been working together to develop instructional materials for K-12 grades via the World Wide Web. The result is Live from Earth and Mars, a revolutionary on-line curriculum design project centered broadly around the topics of Mars exploration and Puget Sound weather.

"It's exciting to be working on a project on the cutting edge of bringing new technology to the K-12 classroom," Harry Edmon, project leader and director of the UW Atmospheric Sciences Computer facility, said. "I look forward to presenting real-time data to the K-12 community."

The creators of Live from Earth and Mars have tailored live atmospheric sciences data to display and explore the unique meteorology of the Pacific Northwest and the Puget Sound regions. They have used science, engineering and exploration themes from the Mars Pathfinder Mission and integrated them into fun, descriptive lessons. Live data from the Pathfinder mission will be presented when it becomes available in 1997.

Project team members are now in the process of contacting pilot schools and individual teachers and putting hardware and software in place. A summer institute focused on exploring this new medium of instruction will take place on the UW campus, July 8-25.

"The institute will provide an opportunity for teachers, scientists and engineers to work creatively in a new educational arena," Space Grant Associate Director and project Co-Investigator Janice DeCosmo said. "It's an opportunity for all of us to learn from each other, and many students will benefit from it."

Live From Earth and Mars is a collaboration between K-12 teachers, UW's Aeronautics/Astronautics, Atmospheric Sciences, Geophysics, Astronomy Departments, the Washington NASA Space Grant program, Seattle's Pacific Science Center and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

For more information or to offer feedback or suggestions, please contact Harry Edmon (harry@atmos.washington.edu) at 206-543-0547.


In ancient Greece, Athena was known as the goddess of wisdom and the arts. In the 90s USA, Athena will be known as an exciting new science curriculum design for the World Wide Web. With Athena, students can track drifter buoys in the world's ocean, forecast today's weather, and investigate tropical storms viewed from space. The material is intended for direct use by students with appropriate assistance from teachers.

"Although the World Wide Web offers a large amount of technical and scientific data, very little of it is in a form usable by K-12 students and their teachers," Athena's Principal Investigator Hugh Anderson said. "Much of it is written at a college/graduate school level, or is offered with little explanation of any kind."

The goal of Athena is to enhance the K-12 science curriculum by offering this data in suitable instructional material, and to facilitate easy access by the powerful computational tools in classrooms networked to the Web.

Tom Charouhas teaches 8th graders at Rose Hill Jr. High in Seattle and is one of the teachers pilot-testing the Athena material. His students had gone on a scavenger hunt that morning as part of an Athena lesson. They looked up all the current weather in the US and in the same keystroke, checked up on the latest earthquakes as well. "A teacher can just have one link to Athena and do all the science they'll ever need," Mr. Charouhas reported.

Athena scientists and educators are currently working together to develop more instructional material. The project is a collaboration between the Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), the Washington State office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the school districts of Seattle, Bellevue, Lake Washington, and Northshore, and NASA's Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications program at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Athena instructional materials are available at http://a. thena.wednet.edu or http://www.athena.ivv.nasa.gov For more information or to give feedback, please contact Hugh Anderson (hugh@nw.saic.com) at 206-747-7152.

Live from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France

By Gene Fujii, Former Washington Space Grant Student

In June of last year, after years of exams and classes, I actually graduated and received my Masters degree in Aero/Astro Engineering from the University of Washington. I had been dreaming for years of entering the "real world" and ending my tenure as a student, but I found myself unsure about what to do. Did I end up getting a job which would take me as far away from academics as possible? No, I chose instead to go back to school for another year. I was offered a unique opportunity to participate in a new program called the Master of Space Studies (MSS) at the International Space University (ISU) in Strasbourg, France.

The ISU is unlike any other university or institution for two distinct reasons. First of all, the students at ISU study space and nothing else. The subject of space is very multi-disciplinary and includes subjects such as: space law and policy, space life sciences, astrophysics, economics and business, and even space social sciences. Secondly, ISU is unique because the students, faculty, and the staff all come from many different countries, creating a rich melting pot of languages and cultural differences.

There are 30 students from 14 countries in this program. I was lucky enough to be one of the two students selected from the US. After being in the program for 5 months, I have realized that my work here is priceless, an experience that can not be taught in a classroom or read in a book.

Two of the biggest lessons I've learned so far are to speak slowly and to be very patient.

The Masters program, which started in September and goes through July, is divided into three terms. In the first term (Sept. - Dec.), all students attend lectures to establish a common foundation on the various space subjects. The second term (Jan.-April) offers advanced classes in specific subjects. We will also arrange to go to another country for 8 weeks to work on individual projects. I will be going to the Institute for Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Japan. In the third term (April-July), we will focus on a team design project. All the students will work together to research and propose a solution to a real life problem using space assets.

Since the university is located in Strasbourg, France, I not only get to participate in a wonderful space studies program in 1996 but I also get to spend a year in France!

One thing I have learned from the Washington NASA Space Grant program is to work hard for your dreams and not give up on what you want to do. I have always dreamed of one day working in space and I strongly feel that by attending the International Space University, I have taken a big step toward reaching that goal.