Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Winter 2000

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Table of Contents:

SG Scholar heads to observatory in Chile

Tanya Tavenner

Tanya Tavenner

Space Grant scholar Tanya Tavenner started the new millennium with a bang. The University of Washington senior left right after New Year's Day to begin an undergraduate research assistantship at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory outside La Serena, Chile.

The program, which runs January through March, emphasizes observational techniques and provides opportunities to use state-of-the-art telescopes and instrumentation.

"It's one of the best telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere," said Tavenner, 19. The area offers excellent atmospheric conditions. While the students live in La Serena, the telescopes are located about 60 miles east on the slopes of the Andes, 6,800 feet above sea level.

Last summer, Tavenner took part in the Space Grant Summer Undergraduate Research Program, working on the UW's research grade telescope under the guidance of Astronomy Professor Bruce Balick.

"The only reason I got this was because of my undergraduate research," she said. "They wanted people who wouldn't have to spend all their time learning the basics."

Tavenner, an astronomy and physics major, will be reducing data on the planetary nebula Hubble 5 and doing other data analysis projects. Tavenner said she already speaks a little Spanish and hopes to become more fluent.

CTIO is the U.S. national center for astronomy in the Southern Hemisphere. Only four university students from North America are accepted into the program each year. They will be joined in the program by three undergraduates from Chile. Students work full time and receive a salary of $355 a week, as well as housing and travel expenses.

A graduate of Stanwood High School, Tavenner attended Everett Community College as a Running Start student.

Space Science News

Science@NASA features updates on the latest space science breakthroughs, plus a special resource area for teachers. The Thursday's Classroom includes fun facts, lesson plans and features such as original stories broken out by reading level. For more information, visit http://science.msfc.nasa.gov/

Educator Resource Center offers teachers a wealth of new ideas


Alex Koerger, coordinator of the expanded NASA Regional Educator Resource Center, enjoys the challenge of helping teachers bring new ideas and materials into their classrooms.

For years, the NASA Regional Educator Resource Center shared a crowded corner of the Space Grant office at the University of Washington. Videotapes were crammed into boxes. Lesson plans filled filing cabinets.

Not anymore. The new Space Grant office on the fourth floor of Johnson Hall includes ample space for teachers to come and browse. They can even try out educational software or review videos before ordering duplicates.

"Teachers love these materials because they get the kids excited about math and science," said Space Grant Director Janice DeCosmo. "They can use the materials to teach the basic principals, but in a format that's appealing to the students."

The resource center is open year-round for use by teachers, home-schoolers and others. Resources include curricula, videos, slides, CDs, visual aids and books.

Printed material, slides and selected videotapes are available at cost. Selected NASA posters and photos are available free on a first-come basis.

Alex Koerger, the center's resource coordinator, noted that NASA, along with the private sector, has a significant interest in developing strong science education programs.

Koerger holds a bachelor's degree in zoology and has extensive experience working with elementary and middle school children.

"I want to help teachers draw on cutting edge materials to create a vibrant classroom environment for math and science learning," he said.

For more information and appointments, call 543-1943, or e-mail nasa@u.washington.edu.

Applications for OUR Earth 2000 now available to students online

OUR Earth, Space Grant's popular earth science research program, is now accepting applications from undergraduates.

Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Earth System Science integrates ideas from diverse disciplines including electrical engineering and oceanography.

Students spend eight weeks working in close collaboration with noted members of the University of Washington faculty.

Those accepted receive room and board on the UW campus, as well as a $2,000 stipend. Applicants must have completed at least two years of college coursework toward a science, education or engineering major.

This year, the program runs from June 19 to Aug. 11. The deadline for applications is March 15. For more information, call the office at 543-1943, or visit the OUR Earth page.


Web tool lets teachers pick and choose sites

A new tool is available to help teachers pinpoint the resources they need for their students from thousands of learning resources on the Internet. Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) is a search engine designed so teachers may type in a topic, grade level, plus other information, and retrieve lessons, instructional units, and other free educational materials from more than 140 web sites.

The site works like a card catalog letting teachers, as well as parents and students, search instructional materials at state, university, nonprofit, and commercial organizations. Federal sources are included, but the focus is on materials not created with federal support. To try GEM, go to http://www.thegateway.org

Space Grant welcomes new program manager

Gail Gilliland

Gail Gilliland

Gail Gilliland joined the Space Grant staff as program manager this fall. For the past five years, she worked at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, leaving as senior accountant.

Her love of learning leaves her with little spare time for hobbies. Last summer, she earned a bachelor's degree in humanities. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in technical communications. Gail is married and has two cats.

Students can talk to Space Station experts

The 7th Annual International Space Station Teleconference: Expedition 2000 is scheduled for Feb. 17. The free live program will present students with real-world examples of math and science that support national Standards of Learning for middle through high school students.

Students will be able to interview scientists, engineers and astronauts who are working on the ISS project. Classroom materials are provided to all registered participants. To register, go to http://www.spacesite.org/Exped2000/default.shtml

Space Day 2000 theme is living in space

Space Day celebrations, set for May 4, challenge students to grapple with the design issues of living and working in space. The Space Day 2000 site also provides links to live Webcasts, a lesson library and other resources.

Early in the year, a series of electronic lessons will beam into classrooms. The Design Challenges, combined with exciting online activities, will incorporate fun elements featuring heroes, adventure and thrills so popular with the "digital" generation. Further information on Space Day 2000 is available at http://www.spaceday.com

Want to keep those newsletters coming?

With our moving done and and the boxes unpacked, we've started on our housekeeping. That means bringing all our mailing lists up to date. If you wish to continue receiving the printed version of our newsletter, please send a note with your name and mailing address to nasa@u.washington.edu.

You are also invited to sample our electronic newsletter for teachers. To sign up, go to http://www.waspacegrant.org/ e-news.html.