Friday, August 5, 2011

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!

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