Saturday, August 6, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea Program - Hydrographic Surveying Cruise in Alaska

Well my summer adventures have come to a close, but I'm not done yet! I head up to Alaska for my NOAA hydrographic surveying cruise on September 4th until the 22nd. I am really looking forward to this experience because it ties in perfectly with my 6th grade science and social studies curriculum as we study oceans, our atmosphere, and maps. I don't have a lot of background knowledge in the studies of our oceans so I am excited to learn first hand, and then take back the information immediately to the students. I also have to keep a blog during this trip so I can communicate what I am doing with the students and the community. Make sure you and your students check it out and ask me questions along the way! I want to try and make it as interactive as possible with schools across the country. I hope I hear from you soon!

Friday, August 5, 2011

AREES/ Dryden Flight Research Center


AREES Workshop for teachers in California!

NASA Airborne Research Experiences for Educators and Students (AREES)

This teacher workshop took place at the AERO Institute in Palmdale, California July 27-29. It was going to be a great trip because it was NASA and we received a $450 stipend to cover costs! This workshop had many elements to it such as learning about NASA Explorer School, NASA Neon, NASA ePDN, Google tools, and so many more resources for us to use in the classroom. However, the main focus was on the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), which uses airborn radar to study numerous fields in Earth science. This includes volcanoes, earthquakes, vegetation, hydrology, ice, and so on ( In our workshop we focused on earthquakes because we were in California and we were near the San Andreas fault. The first night we had a design challenge to create a structure out of spaghetti and marshmallows that we would test on a shake table on the last day. The following day was the BEST day, in my opinion! We were taken out to Dryden Flight Research Center to meet some amazing engineers, and to see some amazing research planes. These included the Ikhana (unmanned plane), G-III (this one conducts research for the UAVSAR), and my personal favorite, SOFIA (a huge infrared telescope in the back of a 747). We were able to actually go inside the G-III and SOFIA. They were absolutely amazing to see and mind blowing to grasp how engineers were able to convert these planes into flying research labs. Both the G-III and SOFIA will have teacher programs next summer where educators can fly and conduct research on the planes. Keep your eyes peeled for those applications! The following day we learned how to use the educator lessons and resources that go along with the UAVSAR program. It is an amazing unit that can be incorporated into almost any Earth science unit in the classroom. Materials will be available to teachers in October along with a student challenge. Again, it was sad to see another great NASA experience go, but I have so many amazing resources that I know will have an impact on my students. I can't wait to get into the classroom this fall! Let me know if you have any questions about this program and I will do my best to help you out!

Video Overview of Our Experience on the Weightless Wonder!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Applying for NASA's Reduced Gravity Program (Zero G)

Ever since my experience with NASA's Teaching From Space Reduced Gravity Program, I have had a lot of people ask me about how to apply and what the program consists of.  I'm going to start off with a caution that it is one of the hardest applications and executions of a project that I have ever done.  It should not be looked at as a "fun time" even though it is during the flight.  This is a lot of hard work and real scientific research in a very unique and special environment, and that should not be taken lightly.  Last year the applications opened up in February and were due mid March.  Here is last years schedule (  It is a tight schedule and chaotic.  The more complicated the experiment the more stressful it gets to make deadlines and report that the experiment is safe.  We had a simple bubble experiment and it was pretty stressful as the team leader.  It is a lot of emails, contacts, and typing so make sure you have the time, or a great and supportive team if you want to take this on.  My personal advice, and we suggested this to the Teaching from Space program, is to start your ideas and experiments in the fall to make it a year long project.  If everything goes well in the fall and you have great data go ahead and apply, and it might even make the application process easier.  If your school is accepted then great!  However, if not, then you probably worked on a great experiment anyway that you could probably share with parents and the community.  There are also other ways to get your experiment in zero gravity.  For example, this project -  Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.  The link for this zero gravity program on the ISS is down at the bottom of the page.  When you are filling out the application, first make sure you have a fully committed team. We had to switch some alternates and it is a hassle.  Commitment and communication is key through thick and think with this project.  When you are writing the application make sure you have a clear vision for your experiment from start to finish.  This means be VERY detailed for all the data collection in normal gravity during the school year, while you are on the plane, and your outreach when you get back.  They really love it when teachers bring in outside resources such as parents, scientists, and researchers in the local community.  They also want to see a lot of outreach when the project is finished within the school and the community.  The main goal is to answer each of their questions with great detail so that they can get a clear vision of what your team wants to study by just reading the application.  If you need more information send me a message and I will help you out as best as I can.  It is an amazing program and all of the hard work is totally worth it to experience weightlessness!

Ideas, ideas, and more ideas..

The NASA Explorer school GAVRT teacher opportunity has come to an end today.  It has been such a wonderful experience to share this with other wonderful teachers from across the country.  We shared so many best practices and I think it is safe to say we learned a lot from each other.  We also had amazing scientists share with us their research and how we can get our students excited about space science.  The coordinators from NES and GAVRT were equally wonderful.  They had us engaged, excited, and collaborating.  Some highlights were going for a hike one morning before we started our fun filled day, learning about the Radio JOVE project (, and of course seeing the radio telescopes in person.  From the entire experience I am so excited to start developing some short term and long term projects that involve using the GAVRT radio telescope.  I really want to share what I have learned with my fellow teachers at my school to see where we could go as a group (6-12).  I also want to see what the interest would be in the radio JOVE project, because the kit is SO COOL!  However, coming into this year at a new school and then heading to Alaska for most of September is going to fill my plate.  BUT!  That still leaves a lot of the school year to fill up with amazing hands-on projects!  I hope I get teacher buy in because it would be great to get radio telescope research going across the curriculum and across multiple grade levels.  We will just have to wait and see, but I am very optimistic!  On a side note I did pass my amateur radio technician test last week and just got my call sign, KF7RCV.  Cheers!