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Jonas Dino
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-5612 or 650/207-3280

Nov. 16, 2004
RELEASE : 04-106AR
NASA Challenges Students to Design for the Future of Flight
Aeronautics education takes a flight to the future, as NASA challenges middle school students to design aircraft and the air transportation systems of the future.

In a continuing effort to engage the nation's students, the Educational Technology Team (AETT) at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley, has developed the Future Flight Design Web site. This new learning environment asks students to address the predicted overcrowding in tomorrow's airports by building new types of aircraft and developing new ways of flying.

"The inspiration and education of our nation's students is a primary mission for NASA," said Frank Aguilera, deputy director of NASA's Airspace Systems Program, at NASA Ames. "The release of Future Flight Design represents the NASA Airspace Systems Program's continuing commitment to the development of aeronautics-themed educational products and events."

Future Flight Design contains two research scenarios: improving air transportation, and innovations in aircraft design. In each scenario, teams of students are presented with the challenges facing each research area, provided with reference material and given opportunities to develop solutions. The scenarios, which are designed for easy use, employ colorful and creative animation, video clips and interactive multimedia to capture and hold the student's interest.

Teachers can help facilitate student learning with educator guides that contain lesson plans, student log sheets, a glossary of aerospace terms and career fact sheets to help pique students' interest and focus their learning.

In the first scenario, students learn about the challenges of coordinating aircraft travel across the United States, now and in the future. Students are introduced to factors that affect air travel such as weather, airport design and tools used to manage today's aircraft. As a team, students study the National Airspace System and what NASA is doing in this area of research. Then students either incorporate their own ideas into NASA's approach, or develop a brand new solution.

Next spring, the NASA Quest Web site will hold an interactive challenge where students can interact with NASA airspace system experts, share ideas and receive feedback about these ideas via a chat room and Webcasts.

In the second scenario, students can design their own aircraft to fly safely and efficiently in tomorrow's skies. To help the students, Future Flight Design provides tutorials on the basics of flight, lift, propulsion and aircraft design. After building their aircraft, students can test them in a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) laboratory and a wind tunnel. The CFD lab shows students how computers can simulate how aircraft design affects airflow around the vehicle. The scenario ends with a flight test of the student design.

"We are proud to add another exciting product to our suite of aerospace-themed tools for educators," said Christina O'Guinn, AETT team lead. "With the addition of Future Flight Design, we are continuing to build our pipeline of online aerospace education offerings for students in grades K-12. By engaging students in authentic engineering design, we aim to increase student awareness and interest in science and engineering," she explained.

Future Flight Design was co-funded by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Education Council at NASA Headquarters in Washington and NASA's Airspace Systems Program at NASA Ames.

The Ames Educational Technology Team produces a wide range of multimedia educational materials for students, teachers, parents and other NASA enthusiasts through the NASA Quest Web site. Educational products include the aeronautics-themed 'Robin Whirlybird' and 'Virtual Skies.' NASA Quest is an award-winning educational Website that has become a valuable resource for educators across the United States and abroad.

For more information about Future Flight Design, visit:

For more information about NASA Quest, visit:

For more information about the Airspace Systems Program, visit:


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