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Nov. 30, 2001

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000

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Hoping to see and hear their names during an upcoming NASA Internet webcast, thousands of first- to fifth-grade students are expected to participate in on-line, holiday-related math activities beginning Monday, Dec. 3.

Students will submit answers to math problems and can send a ‘stumper’ problem of their own to the Merry Math website that features Astro Claus and Dr. Joy, two characters played by website personnel, at: The webcast will enable students to watch live video, listen to audio and interact in real time on the Internet with Astro Claus and Dr. Joy on Friday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m. PST (3 p.m. North Pole Time).

"The primary focus is to get children excited about math by relating it to holiday activities," said Linda Conrad of the NASA Quest program at NASA Ames Research Center, in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. "Our webcasts are designed to engage the classroom in science and mathematics, including lesson plans and curricula developed by NASA." Students can participate in the NASA-sponsored Internet events without pre-registering.

On Monday, Dec. 3, a series of questions ranging from first-grade through fifth-grade skill levels will be posted on the Astro Claus pages. Each question is tied to a mathematical concept appropriate for the particular level. Students may respond to any or all of these questions at any time prior to Thursday, Dec. 13.

Astro Claus, an ‘intergalactic character,’ will appear on camera dressed in red during the Dec. 14 webcast. Joy Colucci of Ames, who plays Dr. Joy, will explain how to solve some of the problems during the program. "These space travel experts will unravel mathematical ideas and concepts pertaining to space flight, whether in a shuttle or a sleigh," Conrad said.

"Dr. Joy will walk through the solutions to selected problems during the webcast on Friday, Dec. 14," said Conrad. "We are selecting the best answers submitted by the children. We have an additional contest in which students describe a newly engineered sleigh for Astro Claus." ‘Astroelves’ will select a winner of the written Astro sleigh design contest during the program.

Students will learn the concepts of measurement, numbers and operation. "At every age there are ways in which students can experience mathematics in an enticing environment that deepens their interest and propels them toward the life-long love of learning that we strive to cultivate," Conrad said.

Thousands of students participated in Merry Math last year, according to Tish Krieg, who leads this year’s project.

The NASA Quest team, located at NASA Ames, produces Merry Math. Quest's live interactive educational events feature NASA expertise, serving thousands of students worldwide. Last year Astro Claus hit the galaxies for the first time, and thousands of young students and children tuned in eagerly to hear Astro Claus and Dr. Joy read their names from the scroll of good little boys and girls.

Students and the public can visit a website at: to find additional activities for K-12 students. For more information about the Internet webcasts and chats, please call Linda Conrad at 650/604-1519. She also can be reached via e-mail, at



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