As education specialists looked on, the fluffy candy gradually started to inflate and then began to shrink back until it was shriveled and distorted.
"This is why astronauts need to wear pressurized suits high in the Earth's atmosphere and in space," Lanotte said, "and using a vacuum chamber is one of the easiest ways to demonstrate temperature, pressure, density and human survival at high pressure altitudes to children."
Lanotte, who is an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, was at the ERC on March 19 to train Kennedy education specialists and Kennedy Educate to Innovate volunteers in the directorate's first NASA center training of the updated Museum in a Box education program.
During her two years as a distinguished educator fellow with NASA, Lanotte is helping to shape education programs by offering guidance and insight to the agency.
"I came to NASA as a science teacher with a love of space science," Lanotte said. "Now I am producing NASA content and helping to deliver it to other teachers and students. I can't imagine a better fellowship experience anywhere."
The series of hands-on lessons and activities are tied to K-12 National Science Standards and teaches physical science through aeronautics. Topics include forces and motion, Bernoulli's Principle, propulsion, history of flight, and other flight-related concepts.
"The activities and experiments in the Museum in a Box give students a real sense of why they're learning the basic science principles and how they could apply them to a career in the future," Lanotte said.
During the training session, education specialists received background material, step-by-step instructions and worksheets, and participated in some of the hands-on activities designed for different grade levels.
Laura Baker, an ERC program manager from Oklahoma State University, said Museum in a Box provides many new ideas and activities to enhance the current K-12 education program.
"We already have incorporated some of the activities into existing programming," Baker said. "It will help to further involve students and teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies."
Baker said the ERC staff is very excited to add the new content to programs already in place.
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center