Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Fall 2000

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Table of Contents:

Mini-grants launch hands-on learning

Silverdale students

Members of Silverdale Elementary's student science club practice with hand-held telescopes for their Star Party in late May. Space Grant funds helped purchase the club's new 8-inch reflector telescope. (Photo by Jeanette Kelso)

With the return of the school year, Washington teachers are making out their educational wish lists. A new telescope? A research trip aboard a floating classroom? Supplies for building rockets?

Applications for the Space Grant Program's 2001 mini-grants are now available to help turn those wishes into reality. The program, co-sponsored by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, helps teachers give their students learning opportunites they might not normally enjoy.

Last year, mini-grants supported projects by elementary school science clubs from Silverdale and Benton City. At East Port Orchard Elementary, students in Beverly Godfrey's second-grade class built their own motorized robots.

"Later in the day, we we made schematic drawings of the robots, answered questions about the process we used to build them and ways to improve the robots," Godfrey says.

Jeanette Kelso says her science club, which used a mini-grant to purchase a telescope for their Star Paties, had to be limited to 24 students and now has a waiting list of over 30. Kelso says support from Space Grant and others allows her to maintain the club without fees or dues, making "science exploration available for all students regardless of economic status."

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.

Last year, Astor Elementary School in Colville recieved eight awards. The grants allowed the school to buy weather kits, Childcraft encyclopedia sets, and detailed bird posters which can be used by future classes.

"When your district has 73 percent of its first grade students qualify for free or reduced meals, you think long term," the teachers wrote.

Space Grant last year awarded 40 mini-grants of $250. Grants must be matched one-to-one by nonfederal funds.

For more information and a look at previous mini-grant winners, click here.

New ERC coordinator is a scientist and an experienced educator

Julie Lutz

Dr. Julie Lutz is selected as the new coordinator of the NASA Regional Educator Resource Center.

This summer, Dr. Julie Lutz took over as coordinator of Washington NASA Space Grant's recently expanded Educator Resource Center. Dr. Lutz also serves as associate director of Space Grant and as a professor of astronomy at the University of Washington.

Those in Eastern Washington may already know her from her 28 years as a professor at Washington State University where she was named Boeing Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Science Education.

She is also a member of the LASER PALS group, which assists Washington school districts with accomplishing reforms in science education, and a member of the advisory board for Project Astro, a program that develops working partnerships between teachers and astronomers.

"My special interest is fostering a love of and appreciation for astronomy, earth and space sciences among inservice and preservice teachers," she says.

She enjoys conducting workshops and helping teachers meet their individual classroom needs. She plans to emphasize ways NASA materials can be used to teach science.

"Starting in January, I'd like to visit groups of teachers at their schools to show them what NASA materials are available and to help their schools cover the Essential Academic Learning Requirements for the astronomy, earth, and space topics," she says.

In addition to meeting with teachers during lunch or after school, she plans to visit classes, present school assemblies and do inservice workshops.

The NASA ERC, located in the Space Grant offices on the UW campus in Seattle, is open year-round for use by teachers, parents and the general public.

The facility offers a wide selection of NASA-developed materials on space flight, astronomy, aeronautics and earth science resources. Materials include curricula, videos, slides, CDs, visual aids and books.

This fall, the ERC offers free Saturday workshops for teachers. The monthly events feature guest speakers, hand-on activities and new ideas for bringing science into the classroom. Clock hours are available.

On Oct. 28, Dr. Lutz will teach a session on stars and constellations. This workshop, suitable for grades K-12, also includes a one-hour session on how to draft a Space Grant mini-grant proposal.

On Nov. 18, NASA educator Brian Hawkins returns with a workshop for grades 4-12 on meteorites and moon rocks in the classroom. Participants will be certified to borrow samples of moon rocks and meteorites from the NASA Centers.

To pre-register for a workshop, or to arrange an appointment with Dr. Lutz, call (206) 543-1943, or e-mail nasa@u.washington.edu

Annual reception honors scholars, fellows and summer researchers

Mark Steedman

Incoming UW freshman Mark Steedman spent his summer on ice, so to speak, studying the effects of ice on metal coated with pressure sensitive paint.The research has direct applications in aviation.

The Space Grant Awards Reception and Poster Session on Sept. 27 drew nearly 200 people to recognize the achievements of the incoming scholars and honor the work of the summer undergraduate researchers.

This year, 73 students participated in the Washington Space Grant's Summer Undergraduate Research Program. The program matches UW faculty or research scientists with undergraduate students.

Summer projects ranged from work in applied physics to zoology. Students were paid an hourly wage and exhibited a scientific poster at the fall reception. The program aims to involve students with cutting edge research.

Students Ben Warrick and Lorne Walker each spent a week at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., with their mentor Robert Winglee working on groundbreaking tests to determine the feasibility of using an electromagnetic bubble to care craft into space.

Undergraduate researcher Hari Shroff described his research in the chemistry lab using phosphorescent dyes to analyze the flight of bumblebees and the work's application in aviation. Hari says he gained motivation from the project and saw immediate applications for his work, plus "I am probably the only student on campus who knows how to paint bee wings."

In welcoming the new students and their parents, Vice Provost Alvin Kwiram encouraged students to take advantage of the many research opportunities available to undergraduates at the University of Washington.

The program was co-sponsored by the Mary Gates Endowment for Students through the Office of Undergraduate Education.

The annual reception also honors the incoming Space Grant undergraduate scholars and graduate fellows at the University of Washington. This year, Space Grant awarded scholarships to 21 new freshman, one community college transfer student, and two new graduate fellows.

NASA Academy experience opens doors for future space researchers

Natacha Chough

Natacha Chough

After watching a shuttle launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base and working in an astrobiology lab, Natacha Chough knows exactly what type of demands she'll face as a scientist. And she can't wait.

The UW senior spent her summer vacation taking part in the NASA Academy at Ames Research Center in California.

"I've seen NASA inside out and upside down," she says. "I came in terrified of not knowing anything and left with a renewed love and motivation for space (studies)."

The 10-week program exposed her to the collaborative philosophy of astrobiology not only project work and lectures, but through tours to industries, observatories and military bases. "I can't believe how lucky I've been to be a part of this program," she says. Natacha plans to take a year off before she starts medical school, but she won't have much time to relax.

She has been asked to return to Ames as a member of the Academy staff next year. Lockheed Martin has also contracted with her to work on the glovebox of the International Space Station.

Seattle Central Community College awards five SG scholarships

SCCC scholars

Scholars Dana Harris and James Whitt at the Seattle Central awards ceremony last spring

Last spring, five students from Seattle Central Community College received Space Grant scholarships to help them reach their career goals.

Susan Bean, director of the SCCC Foundation, noted that students at the community college are often the first in their family to attend college and many struggle economically. Despite that, 86 percent of the students receive no financial aid.

"For these students, college isn't a given," she says. "It is a daunting, carefully weighed decision, requiring sacrifice and hard work."

The scholarships are one-year awards of $1,500 each. James Barnett, who plans to become an environmental engineer, says the Space Grant scholarship means he will no longer have to divide his focus between work and school.

Many community college students don't follow traditional education routes, but they apply a wealth of "real life" experience to developing their career goals.

After 10 years away from school, Dana Harris enrolled in Seattle Central in 1998. For years, she has been the one in charge of researching health care and prevention techniques for her parents and other family members.

"Through my college experiences, I have come to find out that this interest goes beyond friends and family," she says. Today, she is working toward a career in the health sciences.

Yam Thapa grew up without electricity in rural Nepal. The youngest of 11, he plans to pursue a career in chemical engineering. He hopes that his work will eventually help his village, where two of his sisters and brothers still live, especially in the awareness of chemical and environmental problems.

Rebecca Veglia sees her studies at SCCC as a first step toward a doctorate that will allow her to teach either biology, or anatomy and physiology.

James Whitt looks forward to applying to the University of Washington after graduation. His goal is to become a ceramic engineer. He says he hopes to develop medicinal lighting components that can aid the health of those working for long periods without exposure to natural light.

Workshop rocks teachers with links between home and Mars

Tony Irving and students

UW Professor Tony Irving explains the path of Ice Age glaciers.

Last summer 17 teachers spent eight days exploring the links between central Washington's unusual geological history and the latest theories and information about Mars.

The program, a collaboration between Washington Space Grant and the Lunar & Planetary Institute of Houston, gave teachers a rare opportunity to work with leading planetary researchers and develop new hands-on activities for their classrooms.

The workshop kicked off with a field trip to the Channeled Scablands of central Washington to examine landscape features analogous to those formed early in the history of Mars. Teachers saw firsthand how knowledge of our local geology has shaped researchers thinking on the history of Mars.

They worked with researchers and instructors to develop hands-on activities that they could use in their classrooms. Workshop leaders included Dr. Allen Treiman of NASA's Lunar and Planetary Institute in Texas and Dr. Donald Brownlee, astronomer, UW professor and principal investigator on the NASA Stardust Mission.

"The handouts and lesson plans were fantastic," one participant wrote later. "I'll be sharing these with my fellow teachers."

Activities and lesson plans targeted relevant Washington Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and/or the National Science Education standards. A similar workshop is planned for next summer focusing on volcanoes.


Explore the extreme poster available

"Exploring the Extreme," a NASA educational poster for grades 5-8, features the F-15 ACTIVE, an aircraft used by NASA to explore the extreme limits of aerospace technology.

The poster, available online, also includes activities for measuring the angles of wings of different types of aircraft. Copies may be downloaded at:

NSIP guides ready

The NASA Student Involvement Program's 2000-2001 competition information for students and teachers, grades 3-12, is now available.

NSIP, an annual national program of five competitions, links students directly with NASA's research missions of research, and explores questions such as how planet Earth supports a diversity of life and where besides Earth you might find water, or volcanoes, or even seasons.

Competition areas this year are: My Planet Earth (grades 3-4); Watching Earth Change (grades 5-8, 9-12); Design A Mission to Mars (grades 5-8, 9-12); Aeronautics and Space Science Journalism (grades 3-4, 5-8, 9-12); and Space Flight Opportunities (grades 9-12).

Entries from each grade level are judged separately and all participants are recognized. Elementary and middle school NASA Center winners receive a NASA presentation at their school. National middle school winners head to Space Camp.

High school winners and their teachers win a trip to present their investigations at the National NSIP Symposium at a NASA Center. Space Flight Opportunity winners and their teachers receive a trip to Student Flight Week at NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

Entry deadlines are Jan. 19 for Space Flight Opportunities, and Feb. 1 for all other competitions. Current NSIP Educator Resource Guides for each of the competitions are available by calling 1-800-848-8429, or from the Web site at:

Aircraft bookmark available online

A bookmark containing background on Blended Wing Body (BWB) aircraft and instructions for building a ring wing glider is now available online.

The BWB, a revolutionary flying wing configuration, has a thick airfoil-shaped fuselage that combines engines, wings and boy into a single lifting surface. A BWB could carry as many as 800 passengers over 7,000 miles at a cruise speed of about 560 mph.

The bookmark is available at:

Mars guide for high school classes

"Is There Water on Mars?," aimed at grades 9-12, is now available online. The NASA educator guide, designed to explore earth, physical and space sciences, includes seven activities and a package of Mars maps and images.

The guide is part of the Mars Exploration Education Program and has been reviewed by NASA scientists and field-tested by educators. The guide can be downloaded from:

UW students present designs

HEDS-UP winners

Robotics winners Prof. Phillip Dunston, Daniel Villa, Jake Parks (red shirt) Rylan Bryant, Lincoln Ghioni, Matthew Dockrey and Sean Caughlan (kneeling)

UW students Heidi Kappes and Ben Armentrout presented their work with closed ecosystems at the national Human Exploration and Development of Space-University Partners conference in Texas last spring. HEDS-UP promotes student design projects by that advance the understanding of the opportunities or problems associated with human exploration and development of space.

Navigating NASA sites

Are you having trouble locating specific items within NASA's online community? "Searching NASA," the latest article in Spacelink's Educator Focus can help. The article describes how to use Spacelink's search engine to make more effective searches.

It also provides tips for planning a search and how to interpret the results. "Searching NASA" can be found at the following Internet location:

Mark your calendar...

Oct. 28 - Free ERC Workshop. Julie Lutz, UW astronomy professor and Space Grant associate director, on stars and constellations. Includes how-to session on drafting a mini-grant proposal.

Nov. 17 - Deadline for Washington Space Grant Mini-grant applications.

Nov. 18 - Free ERC Workshop. NASA educator Brian Hawkins on meteorites and moon rocks in the classroom. Get certified to borrow samples.

Dec. 2 - Discovering Space and Astronomy, The Center for Talented Youth's 2000Science and Technologyseries in Seattle. For information, visit www.jhu.edu/gifted/conference.

Jan. 19 - Deadline for Washington Space Grant scholarship applications.