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03-026
For Release: April 29, 2003

Katherine K. Martin
Media Relations Office
216/433-2406
katherine.martin@nasa.gov


Student Teams Set for "Dime Drop" at NASA

Four high school student teams will get to test their science experiments at the third annual Dropping In a Microgravity Environment (DIME) Competition being held at NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland.

DIME Drop Days, set for April 29, 30 and May 1, will give each team the opportunity to test the experiment they designed and constructed over the last several months in Glenn's 2.2 Second Drop Tower. Teams will alternately conduct their initial drop tower experiments on Tuesday, April 29 from 1 - 4 p.m. and on Wednesday, April 30, from 9 a.m. - noon and 1 - 4:30 p.m.

Teams participating this year are Cleveland Heights High School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Gettysburg Area High School, Gettysburg, Pa., Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, Ohio and Troy Athens High School, Troy, Mich.

As part of the competition, early in the school year the student teams developed a hypothesis that could be tested through experimentation and prepared a scientific research proposal. During DIME Drop Days the teams will test how their experiment performs in the absence of gravity under the guidance of Glenn engineers and scientists. Experiments this year involve magnetic force, sonoluminesence (sound and light), buoyancy, and crystal formation of super cooled water.

"By participating in this program, students develop a hypothesis that is tested through experimentation and learn how weightlessness, or microgravity, can be created by dropping their experiments in a free fall here on Earth," said Richard DeLombard, DIME program creator and coordinator. "We hope this event helps to inspire the next generation to get excited about science by allowing them to perform their experiments in real-life research facilities."

In addition, the team experiment drops will be webcast starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 30. Students around the world will be able to witness the experiments as they fall down the drop tower as well as the reactions of the participants. Webcast participants will also be able to ask questions of Glenn engineers and participating team members.

DIME is a NASA-sponsored educational program that guides teams to design and build science experiments, which are then operated in a NASA microgravity drop tower facility. The program is a project-oriented activity lasting one school year for selected teams. This year, for the first time, a nationwide competition was held among teams comprised of students in grades 9-12 with an adult advisor. NASA also provides all expenses for the winning teams' trip to DIME Drop Days at Glenn.

More information about the DIME Program, including instructions to access the webcast is available at: http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/DIME.html

Note to Editors/News Directors: Media representatives interested in covering the event should contact Katherine Martin or Glenn's Media Relations Office (216-433-2901) in order to be cleared through security and escorted to the event.

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