Education: August 2007 Archives

NASA GSFC Solicitation: Night Sky Network Outreach Toolkit

"NASA/GSFC intends to purchase the services from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, under the authority of FAR 13.106-1(b)(1) for the acquisition of supplies or services reasonably available from one source. This vendor is the only organization that creates outreach kits for amateur astronomy clubs located across the country."

Night Sky Network, Astronomical Society of the Pacific

"Amateur astronomy clubs dedicated to sharing astronomy with the public are invited to apply for membership in the NASA Night Sky Network (, a free program specifically designed for amateur astronomy clubs that puts great resources right into your hands."

Editor's note: I think that this is great news that GSFC is getting involved in something like this and they should be commended for doing so. Yet I am a little confused. According to the NASA JPL Night Sky Network FAQ "Membership in the Night Sky Network is free." ... "The Night Sky Network is sponsored and supported by JPL's PlanetQuest public engagement program. PlanetQuest is a part of JPL's Navigator Program... The Origins Education Forum, based at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, is an association of the education and public outreach programs of the NASA missions seeking to understand and characterize the origins of the universe, planets, and life."

If this activity is free - and NASA JPL and the STScI (in Maryland) are already involved, why does GSFC have to procure anything? Can't they just sign up like everyone else? Can't JPL and GSFC work together on this - and invite all other NASA field centers to do so as well? Indeed, why does this need to be done on a center-by center basis? Everyone can see the sky. Shouldn't NASA HQ's Strategic Communications' Education organization be doing this for NASA - as an agency?

Editor's note:In order to display their Saturn V, the folks U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) in Huntsville are going to remove the star grain "mass dummy" located inside the Apollo Launch Escape System (LES) and discard it. According to a local source "The thing is so similar to the actual fuel, it shows up the same on a mass spectrometer." These photos (below) show the motor (full of star shape propellant simulant) that they are going to destroy.

Reader note: "Looks like it's now too late. The LES is mounted back on the Apollo Boilerplate in the new museum. What a loss."

Ordinary Guys Send Picture-Taking Balloon 22.27 Miles High, Gizmodo

"Behold the view from 117,597 feet, taken on August 11, 2007 by a camera hanging from a helium balloon launched by a group of guys in Alberta, Canada. Called the SABLE-3 (Southern Alberta Balloon Launch Experiment #3), it was packed with a Byonics MicroTrak 300 APRS tracking device, a Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera set to snap one picture per minute, and filled with enough helium to take it to the edge of the earth's atmosphere."

Shuttle launches with teacher aboard, AP

"After liftoff, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings sent congratulations from Washington and called Morgan "an inspiring example for our next generation of teachers, scientists, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs."

Barbara Morgan Receives Challenger Center's Highest Honor

"The award was first given to President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush in 1995. The award was then named after former President Bush and is the Challenger Center's highest honor. Only those who display exceptional leadership and who contribute significantly to the center's mission to inspire students to learn and explore receive this honor."

Mrs. Bush Congratulates Barbara Morgan, Astronaut on Space Shuttle Endeavour and Former Teacher

"This morning, Mrs. Laura Bush called Barbara Morgan, an astronaut and former teacher who will travel to space for the first time on the flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station."

Editor's note: I just don't get it. Once again Mike Griffin went out of his way to diminish the history - and legacy - behind Barbara Morgan's presence on the STS-118 mission. Moments ago, in a post flight press conference, Griffin sought to reduce the media's emphasis on Barbara Morgan's global notoriety as a teacher and educator by saying "Once upon a time she was a teacher" and "Barbara Morgan is not an Educator-Astronaut".

If this is the case, then why did NASA PAO put out this 2002 press release "NASA's Educator-Astronaut Assigned First Flight" regarding Morgan's assignment to STS-118? Look at her official bio - this is not your typical astronaut's membership listing: "ORGANIZATIONS: National Education Association; Idaho Education Association; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; National Science Teachers Association; International Reading Association; International Technology Education Association; Challenger Center for Space Science Education."

NASA just flew a teacher in space - millions of kids paid attention - as did their parents. The agency - starting with its leader - ought to be making mention of that fact at every possible opportunity - if for no other reason than to show that NASA has relevance - something it seems to be rather incapable of doing these days.

Barbara Morgan is both 100% teacher - and 100% astronaut. I think that says something powerfully important about both career paths.

Reader note: "What is this man's problem? Furthermore, does he actually know anything about his astronauts? If he did, he would know that all across the site, Morgan is profiled/promoted as an Educator Astronaut. Examples:

The latter is specific in its notation about STS-118 that "In addition to delivering the Starboard 5 Truss Segment and the External Stowage Platform 3 to the ISS, it will be the first flight of an Educator Astronaut, mission specialist Barbara Morgan."

In the press introduction of the Astronaut class of 1998, Morgan introduced herself as an Educator Astronaut and Mission Specialist. It is featured on a clip that NASA has played numerous times on NASA TV prior to and during STS-118. Was she lying?

As an educator myself, I have ordered education materials and videos from NASA. All of those related to Morgan and STS-118 promote her as an Educator Astronaut. These are materials printed by NASA itself. Perhaps Mike Griffin needs some time back in the classroom before he goes shooting himself in the foot as he attempts to cram it in his mouth."

Editor's update: A simple search of yielded the following overt examples from 2007 wherein "Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan" is mentioned. I have to wonder just who is advising Mike Griffin on this topic. Griffin clearly has no idea what his own agency has been telling the public about who/what Barbara Morgan is - for years - and recently as well.

  • Barbara Morgan, Educator Astronaut Poster: "Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan makes her first spaceflight on STS-118. Educator Astronauts are teachers with expertise in K-12 classrooms who are selected by NASA to become fully qualified astronauts. With their backgrounds, Educator Astronauts will help lead NASA in the development of new ways to connect space exploration with the classroom and to inspire the next generation of explorers. The back of the poster lists information for teachers on how and where to obtain NASA resources."
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Program: "Barbara Morgan, and the Educator Astronauts who will follow her, will bring the excitement of space flight and the importance of science, technology, and mathematics to the Nation's teachers and students."
  • August 2007 -- First Spaceflight of an Educator Astronaut Extra: "As the first Educator Astronaut launches into orbit, NASA's mission for education aims to inspire, engage and educate the nation's future workforce"
  • An Educator and an Astronaut: "When Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on Aug. 8, 2007, it carried NASA's first Educator Astronaut into space. Despite her historically unique status, Morgan is much like her crewmates on the STS-118 mission as she is a fully trained and certified astronaut.

I guess this tactic on Griffin's part somehow fits into the master "Strategic Communications" plan that NASA Chief of Strategic Communications Bob Hopkins is promoting since Hopkins oversees all NASA Education efforts. Curiously, education and students are mentioned repeatedly in Hopkins' official NASA Message Construct. Why is Griffin departing from his own agency's official Message Construct? Why have one if the boss ignores it?

California Dreamin': Kicking Back With the NASA Academy, Wired

"The NASA Academy is a 10 week summer program for technical and leadership training for college students offered at four different NASA centers. This weekend I gave a workshop on Space Leadership at the NASA Academy at Ames out in Mountain View California (host to the largest Yuri's Night '07 celebration.)"

NASA Ames Research Center Starts Preparations for Hosting 2009 International Space University

"Some Ames employees have already volunteered to be guest lecturers for ISU. "I have signed letters of intent from several scientists stating that they want to participate," said James. James is setting up an ISU Ambassador Program. With this program, Ames employees agree to work with ISU students, helping acclimate them to the area."

NASA Cooperative Agreement Notice: coordination and integration of the education and public outreach activities in Science Mission Directorate

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is releasing a Cooperative Agreement Notice (NNH07ZDA002C) for submission of proposals to support the coordination and integration of the education and public outreach activities in SMD. Four awards are anticipated, one Division Support Group for each of the four SMD Science Divisions: Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Planetary Science."

PongSats Away!

JPA Announces: Away 34 - including space for 50 PongSats!, SEDS PongSat Blog

"JP Aerospace has spots for 50 PongSats aboard Away 34. Mission date is set for mid-September in Black Rock, NV. For those interested in flying their experiment, please e-mail to register."

The Ultimate Power Source

Editor's note: I had the distinct honor of being in the Challenger Center in Alexandria, Virginia this morning as Barbara Morgan did her live downlink and teaching session with a group of students. Although no one among the adults in the room was overtly sobbing, there wasn't a dry eye in the room this morning. Nor were there any expressions other than big smiles.

If only NASA could fully understand (no small task) - and then react to and harness - the immense pride the parents in attendance had in their children, the awe the kids felt at having an opportunity, the obvious sense of future accomplishments all of us adults saw, and the wonderful feeling of completing a circle (Challenger), NASA would never have to worry about inadequate budgets again - nor would it have to worry about being out of step - or unappreciated by the public.

Long Time Between Lessons

Astronaut Teaches in Space, and Lesson Is Bittersweet, NY Times

"Barbara R. Morgan got back to teaching yesterday. The students were in Idaho; she was in space, orbiting aboard the International Space Station. Students at the Discovery Center of Idaho questioning astronauts on the International Space Station on Tuesday. One of the astronauts, Barbara R. Morgan, had been a teacher in Idaho. The lesson was just over 20 minutes, but it was supposed to make up for more than 20 years, and it had a bittersweet air for those who knew the history."

Meet the New Horizons Pluto Pals!

"New Horizons wasn't the only voyage launched on January 19, 2006 - this week we welcome the "Pluto Pals" to the New Horizons team, five kids who were born on the same day our spacecraft embarked on its historic journey the outer solar system. The idea for the club came to New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern last year as he scanned news coverage of the spacecraft's launch. "I saw a fantastic Florida Today image of two boys watching the launch," he said. "It made me think it would be fun to follow some children who would grow up during our 9 1/2 year trip to Pluto."

New Horizons Mission to Begin Pluto Encounter April 12th, 2015 in Salute to Early Space Explorers

"Yuri's Night is proud to announce that New Horizons, the NASA spacecraft currently en route to the ninth planet, Pluto, and the Kuiper Belt, will begin its final encounter with the Pluto system on April 12, 2015."

Challenger's Legacy

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal: 18 July 2007: Ancient Memorials for Modern Space Explorers

"A day or so later a package arrived. As I opened it I told my wife, with a bit of a tear in my eye, "this is history". I had been sent one of the few items Dick Scobee had left in his briefcase when he took off for his last mission: a business card and a mission lapel pin. I am certain that his family has so little in the way of such items. As such I was really honored that the family had chosen this inukshuk we planned to build on Devon Island, as the place where such precious items would rest. I explained these items as well as I placed them in the inukshuk - and read the card that June Scobee Rogers had included - in it she said: "Looks like we share similar missions - inspiring, exploring, learning".

Registration Opens for New NASA Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber

"As space shuttle Endeavour and 10 million cinnamon basil seeds are set to launch on a mission to the International Space Station, NASA has opened registration for the Lunar Plant Growth Chamber challenge."

SEDS 'Got Vision' Space Art Contest Now Accepting Submissions

"The Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) today formally announced the opening of submissions for a nation-wide all-student space art contest."

Sally Ride Science Launches Blog to Help Teachers Fuel Students' Interest in Science

"What is it like to go from zero to 17,000 miles per hour in just over eight minutes? Or to orbit 220 miles above earth? When the Space Shuttle Endeavor blasts off tomorrow for its 12-day mission in space, teachers and students can follow the activities of NASA astronaut and teacher Barbara Morgan through the Sally Ride Science blog."

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal: 16-17 July 2007: Webcasts, Robots, Astronauts, and Dogs

"We also answered a lot questions sent in by students. Matt, Leroy, and I just answered them ad hoc - without a net, so to speak. Again, since we all know the topics rather well, spontaneous unrehearsed answers always sound better. I learned later that each time I read out the student's name there was a cheer from the other students in the room."

Space Shuttle Endeavour Launched on STS-118 Mission

"Cheers and shouts can be heard throughout the Space Center as Endeavour, carrying the STS-118 crew, roars off the launch pad into the late afternoon sky to begin the 22nd mission to the International Space Station. "

Additional ISS and Space Shuttle News

Online Registration Now Open for $9,000 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award

"The X PRIZE Foundation announced the availability of online registration for a new education competition designed to interest students in space, science and technology. The Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award, named in honor of the celebrated Apollo 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."



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

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