Education: September 2006 Archives

Nation's Astronomers Continue Dialog with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, American Astronomical Society

"We do not have a looming problem or a workforce crisis. 25% of the NASA workforce will be eligible to retire within the next five years, though of course not all will do so. I regard this as an opportunity to bring in the next generation of scientists and engineers, who will take us to the Moon and Mars"

Students advised to seek experience in the private aeronautics sector, Salt Lake Tribune

"It simply is not among the top priorities I have at NASA to fund student experiments," Griffin said during a question-and-answer session."

Editor's note: Mike: If you are not going to step up and help generate the "next generation of scientists and engineers, who will take us to the Moon and Mars", who is?

Great Idea - Poor Execution

Editor's note: Unless you happen to visit NASA's home page you would not know about "Looking for NASA's Greatest Fan". I don't see any mention on Wired's website. Nor is it mentioned on NASA's Breaking News page. No press release seems to have been issued - either by NASA or Wired.

This is rather odd given that this contest - which seems to have appeared out of nowhere - has a rather short turn around: "It's not enough for the videos to be good; they also have to be submitted quickly. The contest opens at 8 a.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 18, 2006, and closes at midnight on Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. Only the first 1500 entries will be accepted." This contest should have been announced - widely - at least a month ago.

Why go out of your way to limit visibility for such a contest, then put a short timeline together - and do so for something that takes some time to put together i.e. a video. Plus, this page is listed as being for "K-4 Educators." Unless there are a lot of skilled grammar school videographers who follow NASA, it would seem that this is a project for teachers. But wait, the NASA posting says "but then later in the body of the article is states "Entrants must be between the ages of 13 and 24." So why post this in a K-4 section? The idea is interesting, but the execution is lacking. (Once again) someone at PAO did not put their thinking cap on for this.

Editor's update: Incorrect assumption on my part. This isn't a PAO activity. It was developed by Outreach in Space Operations. PAO actually recommended some changes in a way to get broader public interest but clearly those suggestions were not implemented. Again, let me be clear: this is a really great idea. And I hope NASA does more things like this. I just wish NASA could package these great ideas with great implementation plans.

Editor's note: As is usually the case with paying passengers heading for the ISS, there is some need to whip up some hoopla to promote the flight. Anousheh Ansari's flight is no different. Alas, some of the claims made by Space Adventures don't quite hold up to close scrutiny. Moreover these marketing ploys detract from the true value that could be realized from her flight.

JSC Chicken Ranch Update

JSC now home to rare chicken, Bay Area Citizen

"The Johnson Space Center has been a second home for Texas' best and brightest for decades and now it's also home to Texas' rarest chicken, thanks to a new partnership with the Houston Zoo."

  • JSC's Chicken Farm - the Future of NASA Education?, earlier post
  • Zero-G gives rise to a "teachable moment", MSNBC

    "Over the weekend, about 40 teachers (and a few journalists) from throughout the country converged on Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport for two zero-gravity parabolic flights, with the serious purpose of inspiring kids to study math and science. But I have to admit, we didn't look very serious while we were doing it. In fact, a lot of the teachers (and a few journalists) seemed more like kids bouncing off the walls of a flying playground."

    Editor's note: This story includes a video where Alan Boyle bench presses me over his head in lunar gravity. I expect to have my story online in a day or so.

    Welcome to the Fall 2006 NASA Quest Challenge!, NASA ARC

    "This challenge is brought to you by the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). In order to prepare for exploration on the Moon and Mars, NASA utilizes sites on Earth to simulate living and working on extra-terrestrial surfaces. Students, primarily in grades 5 8, will be challenged to design and build a full- or scale-model of an Earth-based research station that will support living adaptively and working efficiently on the Moon."

    Editor's note: I got an alert email about this tonight. Does ESMD link to this? No. Does NASA's Education Office? No. Yet this is a national program for students - and ESMD is paying for it. Go figure.

    Weightless Over Cleveland

    Northrop Grumman's Weightless Teacher Flights Touch Down in Cleveland

    "For more than 40 distinguished elementary and secondary school teachers from the Cleveland area and six Midwestern states who participated in Northrop Grumman Corporation's Weightless Flights of Discovery program this weekend, the concept of "floating" new ideas past their students will never be the same."

    Editor's note: I had a chance to ride along on one of these flights on Saturday - just as Atlantis was leaving Earth. We beat them into microgravity by a few minutes! In a nutshell, the experience is utterly amazing - and Zero Gravity Corp. provides a marvelous experience. I will have a report online in the next day or so. Also, look for reports on MSNBC, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and on Cleveland's Channel 3 (tonight).

    This is the flight path we took.

  • Weightless Flights of Discovery, AOL
  • Photo of the Day, Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Intellectual heavyweights lighten up a little, Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Teachers To Get Zero-G Flight, Times Union
  • A.L. teacher to try weightlessness, Alberta Lee Tribune
  • Editor's note: In this clip - which covers one entire period of zero G exposure, former MSFC Center Director (and now Northrop Grumman VP) Art Stephenson teaches MSNBC's Alan Boyle how to catch an M&M. Alternating with zero G are 1.8G periods when you are advised to lie flat, not move your head, and look at a point on the ceiling. The woman who can be heard shouting instructions (suggestions) is Sophia Kim, our excellent coach from Northrop Grumman. Shortly after I shot Art feeding Alan someone bumped me and I went into a spin and managed to get to the deck just as 1.8 G reappeared. I managed to point my video camera at myself for a few seconds before it was time to hit the deck again on a later loop.

    NASA KSC Sole Source: Delft University Spacetech Program - Master of Space Systems Engineering Training

    "NASA/KSC has a requirement for Sole Source, TU Delft University of Technology, Spacetech Program-Master of Space Systems Engineering Course for one student beginning September 11, 2006. ...
    1. Master of Space Systems Engineering Training; One Student; Five (5) Two-Week Sessions beginning September 11, 2006 and extending through June 29, 2007.
    "

    Editor's note: I have posted multiple rants about NASA's shortsighted cuts to education. But I find it odd that KSC would want to send someone to a foreign university - using a sole source procurement mechanism - when Mike Griffin has expressed a lack of interest in funding education. How does one apply for such program? And why can't this requirement be met by an American school - or is it that we don't teach this sort of stuff in the U.S. any more?


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    This page is an archive of entries in the Education category from September 2006.

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