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04-027
For Release: April 19, 2004

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


STUDENTS READY FOR THE DROP TOWER CHALLENGE IN GLENN'S 4TH ANNUAL 'DIME' DROP DAYS

High school students have researched how fluids and flames behave on Earth and then hypothesized on how they might behave in a weightless environment. Now four student teams from Ohio, Michigan and Florida will get the opportunity to test their theories as they witness the effects of weightlessness in NASA Glenn Research Center's 2.2 Second Drop Tower.

The teams coming to Glenn in Cleveland for the fourth annual DIME (Dropping In a Microgravity Environment) Drop Days April 20-22, have been working the last four months to design and build their science experiment for operation in the drop tower.

Participating teams and their experiment topic include:

  • Archbishop Hoban High School, Akron, Ohio
    Acoustic Levitation in Microgravity
  • Troy Athens High School, Troy, Mich.
    Water "Drops"
  • Felix Varela Senior High School, Miami, Fla.
    Candle Flame Behavior in Microgravity
  • Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, Ohio
    Fluid Projectiles in Microgravity

DIME is a NASA science competition for high school student teams sponsored by NASA's Glenn Research Center. The project-oriented educational program consists of investigations and design challenges that last one school year. DIME links students directly to NASA's diverse and exciting missions of research, exploration and discovery.

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 have the opportunity to test how their experiment performs in the absence of gravity under the guidance of Glenn engineers and scientists.

"The process our DIME teams go through mimics the process NASA's researchers follow as they propose a research topic, and if selected, receive funding to conduct their experiments," said Glenn DIME program creator and coordinator Richard DeLombard.

A live interactive webcast of the drop tower activities on Wednesday, April 21 will offer students in classrooms everywhere an opportunity to be a virtual participant during each student teams' experiment drop. They will also have the ability to ask questions of the Glenn scientists and participating team members.

In addition to the drop tower experience, the students will participate in is a SCUBA orientation on Wednesday, April 21 starting at 7 p.m. The student teams must construct a large device similar to an International Space Station hatch underwater and have each team member successfully swim through it. The purpose of the activity is to parallel training that the astronauts go through at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

While at Glenn, the teams will also tour several of the Center's major facilities and microgravity laboratories, attend microgravity workshops and conduct data analyses on their experiment with Glenn mentors.

The program is open to student teams in grades 9-12 comprised of groups such as science classes, clubs, or scout troops, and their advisors. To be eligible for participation in this annual event, each group must develop an experiment concept, prepare a proposal for it and submit the proposal to Glenn by November 1 each year. Teams are judged on the following criteria: scientific objectives; technical plan, team organization; creativity, attention to detail; and originality. A panel of Glenn microgravity researchers and scientists select the top proposals.

More information about the DIME program, including instructions to access the webcast, can be found on the Internet at: http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/DIME.html

Note to Editors / News Directors: Media representatives are invited to the 2.2 Second Drop Tower for the team Dime drops on either Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. for the shakedown session drops or Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the science competition. News media planning on covering the event should call Lori Rachul or the Media Relations Office, 216-433-2901, in advance in order to be cleared through security.

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