NASA Visits Virtually, Teachers Choose the Visitor
By: Denise Lineberry
Classroom visits are being redefined through a new Digital Learning Network (DLN) initiative, known as Virtual Visits, in which NASA Langley employees can easily interface with classrooms nationwide from the DLN studio or their own office.
Fourth- through 12th-grade teachers can request a NASA expert from an online collection of videos. That allows teachers to tailor the visit with a specific lesson or subject, making sure the presentation and the speaker suit the students.
The DLN is offering to locate NASA personnel who can address specific areas of student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that are related to the agency's missions and research areas.
More than 28 employees have been interviewed on camera, with eight more waiting their turn.
A Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholar (LARSS) intern and four INSPIRE high-school students have spent their summer at Langley preparing the 3-5 minute videos of participating NASA subject experts.
"This has been a great opportunity for the students, as well. They are meeting people with STEM field careers and getting a broader scope," said Karen Ricks, DLN manger.
Students gathered participants by contacting employees who took part in Langley's Day of Education, a mission that brought NASA into 1,000 local classrooms in 2010.
"We believe education is not just confined to the classroom or to one day," said Cory Davis, an INSPIRE student who worked on the initiative this summer. "Through our Virtual Visits, we would like to showcase the diverse talent that NASA has to offer students and teachers."
Kimiko Booker, a LARSS intern who is studying mass communications at Norfolk State University, supervised the student team this summer.
Along with Davis, INSPIRE students Patrick Negus and Ryan Olmstead gathered participants, maintained a database, prepped the participants for the camera, asked interview questions and uploaded the interviews to the website.
Nick Raimondi of Langley’s DLN staff helped the students with the interviews, which began in July.
Chief Engineer Clayton Turner was one of the first to record his interview from a production room that was set up by the students, outside of the DLN.
As an electrical engineering graduate, Turner explained that he chose NASA because he found that work to be most compelling. "The work we do extends 10, 20, 30, 40 years into the future," Turner said in his interview. "There are not many places you can do that."
Turner talked about his work with the Ares 1-X rocket and described it as a "precursor for what we will use for human space flight."
Other interviewees work at NASA's Langley Research Center as a research physicist, aerospace, computer and electronics engineers, an IT specialist, a communications manager, a chief scientist and project managers.
Details about their work are included in their videos.
Virtual Visits will bring the subject experts into a learning environment for a 45-60-minute interaction with students.
The delivery options include videoconferencing, webinar or webcam.
Virtual Visits offer the what, who and how –- teachers choose.
NASA's Virtual Visitors -- view them all at:
The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Keith Henry