Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Fall 1999

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Table of Contents:

Come Visit Us...

The Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium has new offices and a new Web address. In September, we moved to our new offices on the fourth floor of Johnson Hall. Look for us in the north end of building, Room 401A.

Alex Koerger, our new Educator Resource Center coordinator, is already busy organizing and updating our educational materials.

In August, we received our own domain name! Look for new Web pages, features and links in the coming weeks.

Mini-grants support innovative lessons

Orchard Prairie students

Under the guidance of Janet Isherwood and Edward McCarthy, student design teams from Orchard Prairie School in Spokane mastered the principals of flight.

Want to bring the world to your classroom, or take your classroom out into the world? Applications are now open for Space Grant's 1999-2000 mini-grants. The program, which is co-sponsored by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, helps teachers give their students learning opportunities they might not normally enjoy.

Lynnwood teacher Carol Frodge took 25 students from College Place Middle School on a three-day research expedition aboard a sailboat in Puget Sound. "The students designed their water quality research problem, planned their sailing route, learned sailing theory and planned their three-day menu," she said. The lessons continued back in the classroom as her students analyzed their data and presented their findings to parents and school staff.

The mini-grant program is open to K-12 teachers in public and private schools across the state as well as certified home-school teachers. In the past, Space Grant has funded projects in the areas of astronomy, geography, rocketry, weather and ecological systems. Ann Paoletti's sixth grade class at Orchard Heights Elementary in Port Orchard worked in groups researching planets, then building model probes to reach their surfaces. The project was timed so the probes could be displayed for Space Day. The students also used the project in tutoring younger children.

"My past observations have been that anytime students create something, they are very excited about what they accomplish," Paoletti wrote. "Space study in itself is an extremely high motivator."

Space Grant last year awarded more than 50 mini-grants of $250. Grants must be matched one-to-one by nonfederal funds. Teachers may use donations from private industry, PTA, and school fund-raisers.

"We are eager to support teachers who are developing creative projects to engage all of their students in scientific inquiry," said Space Grant Director Dr. Janice DeCosmo. The awards may also be used for training that helps teachers meet the state's Essential Academic Learning Requirements.

The deadline for mini-grant applications is Nov.15. Those receiving grants will be notified by mail in January.

Washington high school students win Advanced Academy slots


Liz Stuart (top left) and Jessica Larson (second row, second from the left) with the other Choniclers of Discovery at the Science Communication Advanced Space Academy in Huntsville, Ala.

Jessica Larson, an Auburn High School freshman, and Liz Struart, a Newport High School freshman, parlayed their science and writing skills into scholarships for a week of excitement and learning last spring at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Sixteen ninth and tenth graders from around the country were selected as Chroniclers of Discovery and took part in the Science Communication Advanced Space Academy. The teens participated in simulated space missions, met with astronauts and scientists, and learned how to communicate scientific knowledge and technology to the public.

"It was just like mission training for real space," Jessica said afterward. Both Liz and Jessica have stayed in touch with their team mates.

Space Grant selected and sponsored the two Washington students. Applicants were evaluated on their scholastic achievements and required to submit a 1,000-word story about a past development in science or technology. Entries were judged on accuracy, excitement, human interest and the relevance of the discovery to our current quality of life.

Jessica, an avid rocket builder and member of the National Association of Rocketry, won first place in the state with an essay on Robert Hutchings Goddard who pioneered the development of liquid rocket fuel, the 1926 breakthrough that opened the door to man landing on the moon.

Liz placed second with her timely account of John Harrison's solution to the 200-year search for an effective tool to measure longitude at sea. The essay was written as it might have appeared in Poor Richard's Almanac at the time of the discovery.

The Advanced Space Academy is a partnership between NASA, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Space Grant and the Discovery Channel.

NASA undergraduate researchers give back as much as they receive


Undergraduate researcher Justin Gatewood (left) explains his work at the annual Space Grant reception.

University of Washington Senior Christine Palermo knew she would learn from her undergraduate research experiences, but she never expected her project to become the main work of a four-person laboratory team.

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded the team $1 million to expand her exploratory study of multi-drug resistant morphotypic variants of Mycobacterium Avium, which causes complications in patients with AIDS and tuberculosis.

This fall, Palermo shared her research experiences with an audience of 200 people at the 1999 Space Grant Awards Reception and Poster Session.

Palermo was one of 61 students who took part in the Space Grant Undergraduate Research Program. The program matches UW faculty or research scientists with undergraduate students. Summer projects range from work in applied physics to zoology. The students receive their funding as an hourly wage. Students who participated in the program exhibited scientific posters at the reception.

This year, all projects were co-sponsored by the Mary Gates Endowment for Students through the Office of Undergraduate Education.

What this program teaches is the process of learning," said Fred Campbell, UW's vice provost for Undergraduate Education, who gave the welcome address.

Dr. Robert Winglee has employed undergraduate researchers on his groundbreaking work to create an electro magnetic bubble around a spacecraft and let the solar wind carry it into deep space. He believes undergraduates have made a significant contribution to his research.

"They allow me to see things in a whole new perspective," said Winglee, who recently received a $500,000 grant from NASA to develop and test his prototype.

The annual reception also honors the incoming Space Grant undergraduate scholars and graduate fellows. This year Space Grant awarded scholarships to 18 new freshmen, three community college transfer students, and four new graduate fellows at the University of Washington.

New advisor brings a wealth of experience


Julie Villegas

Julie Villegas, Space Grant's new student programs coordinator, is no stranger to the University of Washington campus. A UW alumna, she served as an advisor and tutor on campus for several years.

"After spending 10 years here as a student, it's like a second home to me," she says. A former instructor at Antioch University and North Seattle Community College, she completed her doctorate in English in 1996 and is preparing her dissertation, The Racial Shadow in 20th Century American Literature for publication.

Matching students and mentors is a top priority, she says. "Mentoring relationships give students a chance to explore areas of graduate study and professional career options,"

Julie will meet regularly with students and plans a special Web page designed to meet the information needs of Space Grant scholars. Julie is married and has a 2-year-old daughter.

Student Programs Coordinator Julie Villegas is in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or she can be reached by e-mail at villegas@u.washington.edu.


New electronic newsletter for teachers

Space Grant has launched a special electronic newsletter for teachers providing curriculum ideas, Internet links and other resources aimed at helping teachers meet the Washington Essential Academic Learning Requirements and the National Science Education Standards.

When Space Grant surveyed its newsletter readers last spring, teachers asked for more curriculum ideas and more timely materials that could be used in the classroom.

Newsletter items this fall have ranged from a link to an online chat with aerospace designers to the Web site of a time-lapse movie showing the seasonal changes on Uranus. The newsletter also includes local events and workshops for educators.

New bulletins are e-mailed the first and third week of each month during the school year. To subscribe to the electronic newsletter, send an e-mail to listproc@u.washington.edu

In the body of the message, type the words "subscribe sgteachers" and your name. The e-mail account from which you send the message is the account that will receive the newsletter.

Summer search finds fun, but no meteorites

Two meteorite searches of Eastern Washington turned up plenty of summer fun, but no space treasures.

About 30 participants joined UW Professor Tony Irving on the outings. The searchers concentrated their efforts in a field in the Waterville area not far from where two of the five known Washington meteorites were found. The search area lies along the terminal moraine that marks the southern limit of the glacial ice that covered parts of the state during the last ice age.

The search was sponsored in part by Washington Space Grant Consortium. Additional searches may be held next summer. Click here for the Seattle Times story of Brian J. Cantwell's meteorite hunting adventures.

OUR Earth students sample life in the lab

Kathleen Webb

Through the wonders of virtual reality, OUR Earth student Kathleen Webb of Westminster College flies over the city of Seattle.

This summer, the OUR Earth Program - Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Earth System Science - matched University of Washington faculty with 14 students from colleges and universities around the country.

The eight-week interdisciplinary research program brings talented undergraduate students to the UW campus to work with leading researchers in Geophysics, Atmospheric Science, Oceanography, Geological Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Polar Sciences with a focus on using remote sensing data to understand Earth systems.

This is the third year for the program. OUR Earth is funded by NASA's Office of Earth Science Education through a grant to Space Grant Director Janice DeCosmo.

Applications for the summer 2000 are due March 1. For more information, visit the OUR Earth Web page.

Live from the Storm

The PBS special, Live From the Storm, won't air until Spring, 2000, but NASA's Passport to Knowledge program is already offering some hurricane-related resources, including a teacher-to-teacher forum, at their Live From the Storm site.

Send your students homework into Space

The NASA Student Involvement Program for grades 3-12 has added a new competition for high school students and the winners' experiments will be flown on the Space Shuttle or a sub-orbital rocket. Flight Opportunity winners and their teachers receive a trip to Student Flight Week at NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

Other NSIP competitions include Earth Systems in My Neighborhood for grades 3-4 and Design A Mission to Mars, with a division for grades 5-8 and another for high school students. The deadline for entry is Feb. 1, 2000.

Washington Space Grant Consortium ranked fourth in the nation

The Washington Space Grant Consortium received a five-year extension and a bonus after NASA and outside reviewers ranked it fourth in the country.

The good news resulted from the 10-year review of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. Julius Dash, the program's national manager, praised Washington for exceeding NASA's expectations.

The high marks mean Washington Space Grant will get a 2.5 percent increase in NASA funding each year for the next two years. Space Grant Director Janice DeCosmo said the cash award will amount to nearly $11,000 a year. Unlike other NASA money, the award does not require a match and is not restricted to any single program.

Reviewers noted that the program leapt into the top ranks after placing 13th five years ago. They commended the program for work in several areas, including:

The program received an overall score of 90.6 out of 100 points possible. The national mean was 82.3.

No report card is ever perfect. Reviewers recommended that the Washington program increase its research resources outside the undergraduate community.

Washington Space Grant currently receives a yearly NASA grant of $432,000. The program's overall annual budget is about $1.2 million, including matching funds.

Only a quarter of the budget is used for administrative costs. The rest goes to scholarships, fellowships and other programs.

NASA established the Space Grant program in 1989. The program is dedicated to ensuring the nation's future in aerospace science and technology. The UW was one of the first space grant universities in the country. There are now 52 independent Space Grant consortia administering programs in research, education, and public service.

NASA Administrator Dan Goldin visits with students and faculty

Daniel Golden

Space Grant Associate Director Julie Lutz and Director Janice DeCosmo meet with NASA Administrator Dan Goldin.

NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin squeezed in time to meet with University of Washington students and faculty last May during his visit to Seattle. In a one-hour talk, he outlined his vision of the agency's mission to tackle the long-term, high-risk research and development that cannot be undertaken by private enterprises.

"We answer fundamental questions like what is the origin, evolution and destiny of the universe," he said.

Mars exploration will occur in steps, using ever more sophisticated robots, he told the audience. The agency is researching robotic communities modeled on flocks and herds. In computers, the goal is to move beyond silicon models to biological models such as DNA and quantum computing to create the systems needed to function largely on their own in space.

He noted that he U.S must have a national discussion of the current trend away from aeronautics research or risk being closed out of the aircraft business.

Goldin's University visit was sponsored by the Northwest chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.