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Feb. 25, 1999

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 650/604-9000

e-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov


RELEASE: 99-13AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to special JASON Project "rain forest," one-hour broadcasts that begin Monday, March 1 and continue until Friday, March l2 in the Main Auditorium, N-201, at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. Each day, broadcasts start at 7:00 a.m. (7 a.m. broadcasts are for Ames employees), 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., (PST), except on Saturday, March 6, there will be no 1 p.m. broadcast. There will be no JASON activities on Sunday, March 7. In addition, historic Hangar 1 will be the site of "JASON Village" activities. To travel to Ames, take the Moffett Field exit off Highway 101, drive east to the main gate at Moffett Federal Airfield, and report to the Visitor Badging Office for vehicle passes and directions to the Main Auditorium and Hangar 1. Media representatives must present valid press credentials to be admitted to Ames.

NASA AMES TO HOST JASON PROJECT RAINFOREST SCIENCE ACTIVITIES FOR 14,000 LOCAL STUDENTS

More than 14,000 Bay Area students are scheduled to attend the 1999 JASON Project X: "Rainforests – A Wet and Wild Adventure" at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, March 1–12, 1999. Youngsters from grades 3 to 10 will be able to talk via live satellite during 54 broadcasts to scientists and other students exploring the Peruvian jungle during a comparative study of tropical, temperate and fossil rainforests. Hands-on student activities will also take place.

During "virtual expeditions," students will explore the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER) in Peru, the Hoh temperate rainforest in Olympic National Park, WA, and Castle Rock, CO, site of a 63-million-year-old fossil rainforest. Local sixth grade teacher Timothy Conway of Woodside Elementary School, San Mateo, CA, will be an "Argonaut" in the Peruvian Amazon during week one of the expedition. (TV, radio and print reporters may call the JASON Project at 703-276-2772 to arrange telephone interviews with Conway March 1-5 at the expedition site. TV satellite interviews will be March 3.)

"Students will examine the Peruvian rainforest during the broadcasts," said Lisa Marie Gonzales, JASON Project Coordinator at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. "Last fall other students explored a temperate rainforest in the Olympic National Park, WA, and a fossilized rainforest in Colorado; information about those expeditions is archived on the JASON website at http://www.jasonproject.org."

In September 1998, students studied a fossilized subtropical rainforest at Castle Rock, CO that was warmer and wetter than the present day climate there. Local student Felix Eisenhauer of Fremont High School, Sunnyvale, CA, is featured on the JASON website because of his participation in the mini-expedition from Sept. 11-19 at Castle Rock, and Olympic National Park, WA.

JASON satellite broadcasts will feature a team of researchers and student and teacher "Argonauts" on the 2-week expedition in the Peruvian Amazon. Students can climb to a height of more than 100 feet to explore the layers of forest and to observe its inhabitants along a quarter-mile-long canopy walkway. On the ground, students will peer inside an ant colony to see life under the forest floor. They will also learn how native people use natural resources for food, shelter and medicine.

Students will study rainforest dynamics – how the physical, chemical and biological parts of the rainforest interact. Activities on the JASON website include discussion groups, chat sessions, Ask-an-Expert, curricular exercises and more.

In addition, students will participate in hands-on activities in "JASON Village," located in historic Hangar 1. "Students will get a chance to use the knowledge they've gained through the rich educational experience of the JASON Project," said Thomas Clausen, education officer at Ames. "Besides playing games like Rainforest Jeopardy, students will make bugs and butterflies, examine real reptiles, look into active ant colonies; and some students will even eat bugs. It will be a day they won't soon forget."

Not the traditional textbook style of learning, the JASON Project uses advanced technologies to interest students in science and technology. Through a satellite telepresence system, the project will bring the Peruvian Amazon live to students at 35 sites including Ames. About 3,000,000 students are expected to participate worldwide.

Students will learn about the impact of a giant comet or asteroid that struck Earth 65 million years ago. Some scientists think this impact caused a mass extinction, which ended the reign of the dinosaurs, and also paved the way for modern rainforests, and mammals. Students will use NASA Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite data to study rainforests and global climate to gain insight into deforestation rates and the global distribution of rainforests.

Founded by international explorer and RMS Titanic-discoverer Dr. Robert Ballard, the JASON Project is internationally renowned for its ability to incorporate cutting-edge technologies, a multi-disciplinary curriculum, professional training for teachers and Internet communications into a comprehensive learning program.

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