Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Fall/Winter 2002

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Table of Contents:


Heritage College boosts student research

Heritage student Daniel Juarez

Daniel Juarez hopes to apply his computer skills in biomedical research.

Computer science major Daniel Juarez pointed to the numbers on his computer screen. A click of his mouse and the data transformed into the Doppler image of a breast cancer patient's tumor site.

"What they're trying to probe is the different pulsivity of tumors and regular tissue," he explained.

Daniel, a senior at Heritage College, spent his summer at the University of Washington working with the Applied Physics Lab's Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound.

That's the kind of rich educational opportunity this small college in Central Washington strives to give its undergraduates.

Heritage—one of the newest Space Grant members—just celebrated its 20th anniversary. The college was established to meet the higher education needs of Yakima Valley residents, especially members of the Native American and Hispanic communities. Jim Falco, the dean of arts and sciences, noted that the areas served by Heritage have the highest poverty levels in the state. NASA recently awarded the college special funds to train additional science teachers.

Today, Heritage has 1,400 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Half of the college's enrollees are Hispanic and 20 percent are Native American.

Daniel grew up in Toppenish and studied graphic arts at Perry Technical Institute in Yakima. He initially enrolled in the airbrush classes and visualized owning a custom auto shop with a friend. He quickly developed an interest in photography and digital editing.

After graduating with a two-year degree, he moved to Phoenix, but found it difficult to break into the graphics field. With the encouragement of his brother, he decided to go back to school and major in computers. Today, the young father of two is studying for the GRE test and debating whether to make the leap to graduate school. If he does, Falco says, Heritage will be able to help.


Mini-grant projects are a launching pad for hands-on learning

Students and rocket

Evergreen High School students Dontay Fletcher, Vanessa Faimalo and Paul Mausia get ready to launch their rocket, Tongsaco.

Imagine and invent. Those seemed to be the watchwords for Langley Middle School students as they created their own Martian rovers and tested them.

Students in Rachel Kizer's class faced many of the same frustrations as NASA researchers—deadlines, limited material, rough terrain. But in the end, they triumphed and even got to see their accomplishment publicized in the South Whidbey Record.

"It was great!" said sixth grader Brett Warwick. "Everything worked and everyone was happy after the presentation. The rover had a few problems, but those were figured out very quick."

Langley's "Mission to Mars" and 31 other projects were funded through the Space Grant mini-grant program. Mini-grants of up to $400 each are available to K-12 teachers in public and private schools, as well as certified home school teachers.

Recently, Space Grant has funded projects in the areas of astronomy, earth science, rocketry, weather and ecological systems. Many of the projects have won recognition for their innovation.

Last year, teachers who developed the Quincy Lakes Environmental Awareness Project received an honorable mention as one of USA Today's top 20 teaching teams in the country.

"If kids read about it, they're not highly motivated," sixth grade teacher Steve Coleman told reporters. "When they can touch it, smell it, see it, it's a whole different learning modulation."

Hands-on projects are an ideal match for a mini-grant. "We are eager to support teachers who are developing creative projects to engage all of their students in scientific inquiry," said Space Grant Director Janice DeCosmo.

Grants must be matched one to one by nonfederal funds. Teachers may use donations from private industry, PTAs and school fund-raisers.

At Hofstetter Elementary in Colville, levy funds combined with a mini-grant provided students with visual and kinesthetic aids to study the state's unique geology.

"They were even able to recreate some of the events with the help of a stream table and modeling clay," said teacher Vickie Anderson.

Evergreen High teacher Jennifer Humphreys said her ninth graders not only learned science and math principals as they designed and built their rockets, they also learned about money skills, planning and collaboration.

The deadline for mini-grant applications is November 22, 2002. Those receiving grants will be notified by mail in January.


Space Grant community celebrates student accomplishments

SURP participants

SURP students were honored for their reseach work..

On Oct. 3, nearly 200 faculty, friends and family turned out to honor the new incoming Space Grant scholars and to recognize the work of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) participants.

The annual Space Grant Reception and Poster Session presentations were given by returning scholars Peter Norgaard and Sudhi Tyagi.

An aeronautics and astronautics major, Peter spent his summer working in the area of plasma fusion. Sudhi, an astronomy and physics major, spoke on her work on the spectroscopic analysis of stars.

Space Grant awarded UW scholarships to 17 incoming freshmen and five community college students, as well as 53 scholarships for returning scholars and one graduate fellowship.

SURP is co-sponsored by the Mary Gates Endowment for Students. Fifty undergraduates presented posters based on their science, math and engineering research. Several student research posters were selected for display at the Gerberding Hall offices of the UW regents and President Richard McCormick.


Space Grant wins workforce development funds

This fall Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium received a $100,000 grant to help students across the state prepare for careers in aerospace-related fields.

The activities will provide opportunities for students to engage in learning related to NASA's enterprises at a variety of levels. The funds will support increased student research, internships and design teams at consortium member colleges and universities.

In 1993, Space Grant initiated a large interdisciplinary summer research program on the UW campus. The grant will allow similar programs to be implemented at other institutions. Western Washington University, for example, is especially interested in placing pre-service science teachers in research labs.

An entry-level class focused on the construction, launch and data analysis of a high altitude balloon payload is being piloted at UW this spring. Forty students are expected to participate. Other institutions will be able to use grant funds to adopt the course in the future.

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has already agreed to place up to five student interns from Washington next summer. In addition, Space Grant will conduct a competition for student design and engineering team projects to encourage statewide participation in programs such as Cubesat and Lunar Robotics.


S2N2 brings space interests together

Space Science Network Northwest (S2N2) provides a new way for scientists, educators, museums and others to form partnerships and participate in NASA space science missions and programs.

Comprised of the Space Grant Consortia of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii, S2N2 is one of seven regional broker/facilitators for NASA's Office of Space Science Education—the branch of NASA responsible for solar system missions, astrobiology, and research satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

S2N2 activities include coordinating K-12 educator workshops and class sessions for pre-service teachers; working with a museum on a traveling exhibit; supporting a Girl Scout Council activity; making presentations at professional meetings; and helping space scientists get partners for education projects.

Director Julie Lutz said that S2N2 is currently working with a NASA scientific forum on programming for Sun-Earth Day 2003. The event will have a "Live from the Aurora" theme that involves television programs, rocket launches and other events broadcast from Alaska. S2N2 is housed in the Space Grant offices on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. For more information (including a calendar of events) visit the S2N2 Web site.

Dr. Lutz and Assistant Director Annalisa Churchill can be reached at 206-543-0214.


Students float new milling ideas for space use

Graylan Vincent

Graylan Vincent at work in microgravity aboard the KC-135

Last summer, a UW microgravity team sponsored by Space Grant took to the air to demonstrate and evaluate a machining process that could be used aboard the International Space Station.

Aboard a specially modified NASA KC-135 aircraft flown from Johnson Space Center, the students studied the effects of milling aluminum in different gravitational environments. Their efforts were highlighted in the Sept. 6 issue of Science magazine.

The UW team was comprised of a faculty advisor, Aeronautics and Astronautics Professor Todd Anderson, and students Holly Devlin, Karen Kennell, Graylan Vincent and David Young.

"Our project was a great success and accomplishment for us," Karen Kennell said. "We encountered many issues that we could not have foreseen sitting in a lab in Seattle and dealt with them in a microgravity environment."

The team is still working to resolve some questions, she said, but overall their experiment showed that such work is possible and that precision machine cuts made in microgravity and Earth gravity were the same.


NASA summer programs give scholars a taste of researchers' lives

NASA summer programs gave a trio of Washington scholars a glimpse into the nitty-gritty of research, funding and team building. They loved it.

"More than anything, it's been great to see how NASA works from the inside" says Justus Brevick, a UW graduate with degrees in astronomy and physics. Justus divided his time between research at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and visiting other NASA centers, including the Johnson Space Center.

His group project, undertaken by a team of 16 students, looked at the health impacts of atmospheric dust. The group used sensor webs to study the African dust plumes that can travel as far as Miami and the Bahamas. In his individual research, the June grad looked at improved position encoders with super-conducting resonant noise capacitimetry.

Justus is still working at the center and hopes to join a research project in Antarctica next year. He credits his UW undergraduate research with landing him the initial Academy slot at Goddard. "Others have more demonstrated interest in space," he says, "but it comes down to having done a lot of research and having a lot of experience in the lab."

Eric Collins, a WSU Space Grant scholar, devoted his summer to astrobiology research at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in California. His individual work centered on the physiology and modeling of neural networks. Like Justus, the rest of his time was taken up with his group project and meeting experts in his field.

Eric graduated in June with a degree in biochemistry. This fall, he began work on his graduate degree in biological oceanography at the University of Washington. Through the astrobiology program, he plans to apply his knowledge to the study of possible life on other planets.

The 10-week NASA Academy program is designed to build leadership skills, provide research experience, and give college students a glimpse of the aerospace industry as a whole.

Luke Dubord, a UW senior majoring in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, was accepted into the NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program (NASA-USRP) and spent his summer vacation working side by side with scientists at the Ames Research Center in California. NASA-USRP offers students opportunities to work at NASA field centers across the country. Each session runs 10-15 weeks.


Scholarships open doors for SCCC students

Lisa Wang

SCCC scholars (left to right):Rachel Jackson, advisor Dr. Marty Cavalluzzi, Julian Chan, Trent Comer, Naoko Sasaki, and Timothy Briggs.

Space Grant scholars at Seattle Central Community College come from different backgrounds, but they all share one dream—to earn a university degree.

"Each year, I am amazed by our students and their genuine appreciation for the generosity shown to them through our scholarship program," says SCCC President Charles H. Mitchell.

This year, five scholarships of $1,800 each were awarded to talented community college students.

Once Rachel Jackson made the decision to go back to school, she was faced with the gap between what she made and what she needed to make to put herself through college. "I tried for scholarships," she says, "hopeful that I might obtain a small amount, but I wasn't holding my breath."

Her scholarship has given her a chance to concentrate on her studies. She plans to pursue a career in medicine.

Timothy Briggs joined the U.S. Coast Guard right after high school and continues to serve as a reservist. Timothy, who has a 3.79 GPA, plans to continue his studies in engineering after completing his associate's degree.

Julian Chan, a 16-year-old Running Start student, wants to follow his three sisters from community college to university and perhaps major in engineering or physics. His ultimate goal is to teach at a university.

Trent Comer is taking the prerequisite classes he needs to major in engineering. His goal is to help design more efficient power systems using alternative energy sources.

Naoko Sasaki grew up in Japan and is the first one in her family to seek a college degree. Her goal is to earn a master's degree in mathematics, then apply her knowledge to the field of biostatistics.

This year, Time magazine selected Seattle Central Community College as a "College of the Year." Only four colleges were selected. SCCC was the only community college.

Space Grant has awarded 36 scholarships to SCCC students since the 1994-5 academic year.


SG Scholars' Achievements

UW senior Patrick J. Cimino received a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Scholarship. This is the inaugural year for the national program. Universities and colleges were permitted to nominate only one student each. Eighty scholars were selected from over 700 applications. Patrick will receive up to $30,000 per year for up to three years of undergraduate study. Patrick, a biochemistry major, is a Space Grant/Donnergaard Scholar and a graduate of Green River Community College in Auburn. He will graduate in 2004.

This summer SG Scholar Devin Kipp interned with Blue Origin, working on an electronic propulsion concept for a single-stage to orbit launch vehicle. Devin, a senior, edged out nearly 100 other applicants including a few with doctorates and master's degrees. He is majoring in aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

"Continuous Measurement of Oxygen Consumption by Pancreatic Islets," an article co-authored by Space Grant scholar Mark Steedman, appeared in the October issue of Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. Mark, a junior, is pre-majoring in bioengineering.

In June, SG scholar Eric Curre and his robotics teammates logged their first international win at Robocup 2002 in Fukuoka, Japan. The Huskies were competing in, what else, the Four-Legged League. Eric, a senior, is majoring in math and computer science.

Clare Steedman, also a Space Grant/Donnergaard scholar, graduated in June and began an internship with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. Her degree is in geology.

SG scholar David Moilanen, a senior and champion swimmer, was named to the prestigious Academic All-America Men's At-Large First Team. Despite a demanding athletics schedule, he holds a 3.96 GPA in physics and chemistry.


SPACE GRANT NEWS

NSIP competition guides available online

The 2002-03 resource guides for the NASA Student Involvement Program (NSIP) are now available. NSIP is a series of K-12 student competitions. Students may participate as individuals, teams, or whole classes, depending on the competition.

This year's competition titles are: Aerospace Technology Engineering Challenge (5-8); Design a Mission to Mars (5-12); Space Flight Opportunities (9-12); My Planet, Earth (K-4); Science and Technology Journalism (K-12); and Watching Earth Change (5-12)

Entry deadlines are Jan. 15, 2003, for Space Flight Opportunities, and Jan. 31, 2003, for all other competitions. The NSIP 2002-03 guides may be accessed at www.nsip.net.

Learn how to access NASA materials easily

The 2002 version of the NASA brochure "How to Access Information on NASA's Education Program, Materials, and Services" is available on NASA Spacelink.

The brochure contains contact information for precollege and university affairs officers at NASA field centers, the NASA Educator Resource Center network, the NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Download the brochure at http://spacelink.nasa.gov/products/Accessing.NASA.Education.Brochure/