NASA Selects Indian River School for 'Weightless Wonder' Flight
NASA has selected Indian River School to fly their experiment aboard the agency’s reduced gravity aircraft, the “Weightless Wonder,” a modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9.
The school was one of 20 NASA Explorer School (NES) teams selected for this unique experience, which will give teachers a feel of space as the aircraft carefully executes a series of parabolic maneuvers. To produce each parabola, the C-9 will make a steep climb followed by an equally steep dive, creating about 25 seconds of weightlessness.
The teachers and students have already finished designing and building their proposed project which is now flight-ready. Nan Munsey, a fifth grade teacher at the school is already at NASA’s aircraft facility at Ellington Field, Johnson Space Center in Houston to prepare for the flight.
Other Indian River School teachers will arrive at Ellington this week to participate in the flight scheduled for Friday, Feb. 16. Following their flight, at 10:30 a.m., EST the teachers will be able to share their experiences and immediate findings with their students back at home via video conferencing technology through NASA’s Digital Learning Network.
The school was selected a NASA Explorer School in 2004, giving the school an opportunity to propose a reduced gravity experiment. The program, which now has 175 teams nationwide, allows schools and their communities to work with NASA in a three-year partnership to develop the nation's future science, technology, engineering and mathematics work force.
Indian River’s experiment, Fluid Dynamics, will explore the effects of reduced and hyper-gravity on the mixing or separation of different density fluids. This experiment will allow the team to study the difference in fluid behavior in hyper and reduced gravity environments which should lead to different mixing and separation times. Within three months the student team will issue their final report about the scientific findings and conclusions drawn from the results.
With this program, NASA continues the Agency’s tradition of investing in the Nation’s education programs. It is directly tied the Agency's major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations, and career ambitions of America’s young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in STEM education programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines critical to NASA’s future engineering, scientific and technical missions.
For more information on NASA Explorer Schools on the Internet, go to http://explorerschools.nasa.gov/portal/site/nes/
For more information on other NASA Reduced Gravity Programs, call Debbie Nguyen of NASA Johnson Space Center at 281-483-5111, or visit the Web at http://microgravityuniversity.jsc.nasa.gov
Goddard Space Flight Center