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01-031
For Release: April 23, 2001

Barbara L. Kakiris, InDyne, Inc.
Media Relations Office
216/433-2901

Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office
216/433-8806
Lori.J.Rachul@nasa.gov


Microgravity Competition Teaches Students To "Drop" on a Dime

Despite its name, NASA Glenn Research Center's Dropping In a Microgravity Environment (DIME) competition won't sound anything like a coin hitting the floor. The thud of experiment packages being dropped in Glenn's 2.2 Second Drop Tower and cheers from student teams will make for a loud event.

On April 25 - 27, Glenn will host the first DIME Competition, known as DIME

Drop Days. Two teams representing the Center Of Science and Industry Academy in Columbus, OH and Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, OH, have made it to the final stage of the academic year long program, which entailed designing and constructing their science experiments for operation in the drop tower. Media representatives are invited to Glenn on Wednesday, April 25 from 3 - 4 p.m. to observe the actual competition.

"In the DIME program, students learn a fundamental lesson for space experiments-microgravity, or 'weightlessness', can be created on the ground by dropping experiments in a free fall," said Richard DeLombard, DIME program creator and coordinator. "Hopefully this program will inspire the next generation of astronauts and project scientists by allowing students to perform their experiments in conditions similar to that in the Shuttle and International Space Station."

DIME is a regional educational program that consists of investigations and design challenges. The program links students directly to NASA's diverse and exciting missions of research, exploration and discovery. By participating in this competition, students develop a hypothesis that can be tested through experimentation and prepare a scientific research proposal.

The program is open to students in grades 9 - 12 comprised of teams such as science classes, clubs or scout troops, and their advisors. To be eligible for participation, each group developed an experiment concept, prepared a proposal for it and submitted the proposal to Glenn. A panel of Glenn microgravity experts selected the top proposals. These selected teams continued their experiment development and will now conduct their experiments in Glenn's world-class facility.

During their visit to Glenn the student teams will also participate in project-related events such as data analysis and interviews for their microgravity experiments, and extracurricular events such as a Lego™ challenge and facility tours.

Media representatives interested in attending the event are asked to call Barbara Kakiris or the Media Relations Office (216/433-2901) ahead of time to be cleared through security.

For more information on the DIME program or to enter for next year's program, please visit:
http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/DIME.html

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