HOUSTON - NASA has selected K. W. Barrett Elementary School, in Arlington, Va., to fly their school's experiment aboard the agency's reduced gravity aircraft, the "Weightless Wonder," a modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9.
Barrett was one of 20 NASA Explorer School (NES) teams selected for this unique experience, which will give teachers the sensation of flying in space as the aircraft carefully executes a series of parabolic maneuvers. To produce each parabola, the DC-9 will make a steep climb followed by an equally steep dive, creating about 25 seconds of weightlessness.
The teachers and students are working on the design and construction for their proposed project to get it flight-ready. Once complete, Andrea Donovan, second grade teacher; Margaret Frick, library media specialist, Fred Delventhal, instructional technology coordinator; and Susan Golden, science lead teacher, will travel to NASA's aircraft facility at Ellington Field and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The K. W. Barrett teachers will arrive at Ellington on Feb. 4 to prepare for their flight that week. Following their flight, 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 2005, 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.
K. W. Barrett Elementary's experiment, Spinning Toys: Balance and Motion in Microgravity, will explore how a microgravity environment changes the way objects move. The team will be conducting six experiments involving the movement (spinning, tossing and dropping) of two common playground toys - a Hula Hoop and a Frisbee. Learning experiences were designed to facilitate the understanding of concepts related to gravity, microgravity, forces and friction.
The team will issue a final report three months after the flight that analyzes the experiment's effectiveness, scientific findings and what conclusions were drawn from those results. In February, the team and group of second grade students will present their findings at the Barrett Science Discovery Night and NES Celebration.
With this program, NASA continues the Agency's tradition of investing in the Nation's education programs. It is directly tied to 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:
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:
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