Participants in the 2011 Airborne Research Experiences for Educators program and their mentors gathered in front of NASA's synthetic aperture radar-equipped Gulfstream-III research aircraft during a tour of NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility. Several of the teachers were able to fly on a research mission on the aircraft during the summer program. › View Larger Image
NASA Dryden structural loads engineer Larry Hudson outlines his work on analysis of heat loads on several reinforced carbon test articles to AREES program participants. › View Larger Image Thirty-seven teachers from across the country flocked to Southern California's Antelope Valley this summer where they participated in two three-day workshops as part of NASA's Airborne Research Experiences for Educators program. The educators received NASA content resources and instruction for their classroom use.
The program targeted current instructors in grades 6 through 9 who teach science, technology, engineering, mathematics – or STEM – disciplines and language arts as well as college students currently enrolled in an accredited teacher-credentialing curriculum. Educators interacted with NASA engineers and a scientist who discussed their work in airborne science and flight research. They also participated in an innovative teacher-student design challenge: Plan a Flight Mission – Improving Earthquake Monitoring.
The workshop was designed to help participants identify and implement STEM-based educator and student activities that leverage the wide variety of aircraft, flight missions and research opportunities across NASA. One educator called the number of agency resources "staggering" and said, "I will be digesting this workshop for months."
NASA Dryden engineer Patrick Chan explains the workings of a lightweight fiber-optic sensor system that was developed at NASA Dryden's Flight Loads Laboratory for structural loads analysis to AREES participants. › View Larger Image The group also visited NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., and the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in nearby Palmdale, where speakers discussed scientific research being undertaken on such aircraft as the Global Hawk and the Ikhana / Predator B unmanned aircraft systems.
"I loved Dryden," said one departing teacher. "It was great to see the planes in person so we can show the students the pictures, and it will help me, as a teacher, implement the materials better. I liked the hands-on activities. It was great to see how I could use some lessons in our classrooms."
The program's goal is to stimulate interest in NASA's Earth science research, and through educators, aid in recruitment of the next generation of engineers and scientists. Through this and the agency's other university and educator programs, NASA is developing critical skills and capabilities needed for the agency's engineering, scientific and technical missions.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's Office of Education and the Teaching From Space program at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston sponsor the AREES program in partnership with the Aerospace Education Research and Operations (AERO) Institute, Palmdale, and California State University, Fullerton.
Computer engineer Kevin Knudtson of NASA Dryden's range engineering branch outlines the resources used in Dryden's control rooms to ensure flight tests are safe and data collected are good for final analysis. › View Larger Image