Education: June 2007 Archives

Next NASA mission: Twitter and Facebook, CNet

"NASA astronauts "twittering" from the moon? It's not such a far-fetched idea, considering the space agency's current push to partner with Web 2.0 companies like Twitter and save itself from turning into a dinosaur in the Internet age. Some executives at the struggling NASA believe that if the agency can adopt Web technologies like Twitter--a social network for broadcasting thoughts online or via text message--then kids and the general public will be more connected to space exploration and inspired to learn about science."

NASA and the Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge Partner to Promote Science Literacy

"NASA and The Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge announced a partnership to improve science literacy in America by integrating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) vocabulary into the nation's premier vocabulary competition: the Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge. This year's competition took place in Orlando, Florida. A television special based on the National Word Power Challenge will be broadcast on NBC stations this summer, hosted by Al Roker of NBC's Today Show."

Editor's note: Great idea. Alas, there is no mention of this project on NASA's Education page. I guess these sorts of things are not a priority with the NASA HQ Strategic Communications folks (who oversee education) - even if their NASA Message Construct says "Space exploration engages and inspires the public and encourages students to pursue studies in challenging, high-tech fields. Space exploration contributes to our Nation's economic competitiveness by helping to build and maintain a skilled, high-tech workforce. Going to the Moon and Mars will be a stunning achievement and enduring legacy to future generations of our desire to explore, learn, and progress."

Northrop Grumman Foundation Expands Weightless Flights of Discovery During Second Year in Cooperation With Zero Gravity Corporation

"The Northrop Grumman Foundation announced today that it will sponsor the national Weightless Flights of Discovery, an innovative science and engineering education program that incorporates zero gravity flight experiences for teachers. This year's program will also include university students planning careers as teachers. The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery will operate out of eight cities across the United States from August through December 2007. The program utilizes hands-on science workshops and Zero Gravity Corporation's (ZERO-G(R)) unique weightless flights to help educators teach students to share the fun and excitement of science, technology, engineering and math."

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award to Engage Students in Space, Science & Technology

"The X PRIZE Foundation has announced a new education competition designed to cultivate interest and excitement in the fields of space, science and technology. The Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award, named in honor of the celebrated American astronaut, will be presented for the first time at this year's Wirefly X PRIZE Cup in October. The award will be presented to the high school team that develops the most creative, new space concept to benefit the emerging personal spaceflight industry."

Editor's note: During the ISDC (International Space Development Conference) in Dallas last week, Flat Gorby made a number of appearances - both "in person" at the meeting and in the virtual version of ISDC in Second Life. Gorby appeared during a presentation by Yuri's Night Executive Director Loretta Hildalgo Whitesides - which also featured the Coalition for Space Exploration's Joe Mayer, and NASA's Strategic Communications Guru Bob Hopkins. It would seem that thought is now being given to inviting Gorby to be the official Mascot for Yuri's Night 2008 (Yuri's Night organizers are recruiting volunteers for 2008).

Meanwhile, a tentative concept is being floated inside NASA HQ whereby NASA would openly grab the Yuri's Night concept and do their own version. They want to call it "Footprints" and hold it at multiple NASA field centers on 20 July. They tout "Footprints" as being a "Yuri's Night for America". Gee, I thought that had already been accomplished.

While NASA Headquarters is certainly to be commended for appreciating the success (and significance thereof) of Yuri's Night 2007 at Ames (and elsewhere), I am not certain if they truly understand just how such an event actually happens - at least at the scale that was seen at ARC. There was a grassroots component - one mostly independent of NASA - one, which NASA, by definition, is simply incapable of creating. A substantial portion of what went on at Ames was donated.

Hopefully, NASA will decide, instead, to embrace and support existing the Yuri's Night organization (as the Coalition for Space Exploration did this year) by opening itself to these events and help these citizen-organized efforts grow and expand - fueled by citizen interest.

Besides, isn't it better to open the agency up such that taxpayers can embrace it and express their views as to what they want their space program to be - rather than to create yet another NASA controlled event where NASA blasts out its own ideas of what people should think - especially at a time when NASA's messages seem to fall on deaf ears?

Apply Now to be a part of the Yuri's Night 2008 Executive Team!
A Tale of Two Possible NASA Futures: Yuri's Night and The National Space Symposium, SpaceRef
An Interview With the NASA NEEMO 12 Crew and Their Mascot "Flat Gorby", Transcript, SpaceRef
Flat Gorby Sighting on ISS, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Education category from June 2007.

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