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Jonas Dino/Victoria Steiner                                                                    Nov. 5, 2003         

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

(Phone: 650/604-0176 or 650/604-9000)





NASA recently updated its on-line, interactive children's book, "Robin Whirlybird on her Rotorcraft Adventures," for the Spanish-speaking community.


Children in kindergarten through fourth grade now will be able to learn, in Spanish, about how helicopters and other rotor-powered aircraft fly. Launched in 2002, "Robin Whirlybird" builds upon the fascination of children with things that fly, like dragonflies or hummingbirds, to introduce students to concepts in aeronautics and rotorcraft.


"NASA's mission to 'inspire the next generation of explorers' is not just limited to those whose native language is English," said Donald James, education director at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Calif. "NASA wants its educational products to inspire as many students as it can, leaving no child behind.  'Robin Whirlybird' also is available in Mandarin."


Designed to have the look and feel of a children's book, the story revolves around a young girl named Robin who visits a NASA research center where her mother works as an engineer.  During her visit, Robin explores the concepts behind aeronautical design, the physics of flight and the practical application of rotorcraft, like helicopters and other runway-independent aircraft (RIA). RIAs are aircraft that can take off and land in smaller areas of an airport away from the primary runways.


"The site is designed to engage and capture the interest of young children, not only through the story itself, but also through the interactive elements found on every page. Users are invited to explore, using the buttons within the menu bar to listen to the story being read aloud and to explore interesting science concepts about rotorcraft," explained Susanne Ashby, the site's conceptual designer and co-author. "It is a tremendous resource for learning about aeronautics and NASA's research in runway-independent aircraft."


To aid teachers, eight lessons and educator guides were recently added to "Robin Whirlybird" for teachers to download. These lessons feature hands-on science activities that correlate to national education standards for science and are designed to help students understand how changes in a rotorcraft's design affect how it flies. "Robin Whirlybird" is designed for easy incorporation into an integrated elementary school curriculum.


"'Robin Whirlybird' not only explores the science of aeronautics, but it also focuses on reading vocabulary and comprehension skills that are an important part of K-4 instruction," said Christina O'Guinn, lead for the NASA Ames educational technology team. "Each page includes interactive activities such as a simulated noise experiment, rotorcraft sounds and fact sheets as well as puzzles and coloring pages."


The "Robin Whirlybird on her Rotorcraft Adventures" Web site recently received a Golden Web Award from the International Association of Web Masters and Designers.


NASA Ames is a leader in the research and development of runway-independent aircraft technology to help improve the efficiency of the National Airspace System.



To access the "Robin Whirlybird" Web site, visit:


For other NASA Web sites in Spanish, visit:


For information about other NASA education programs on the Internet, visit:





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