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Jonas Dino
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650-604-5612/9000

Kathleen Tucker-Patton
Key Peninsula Middle School, Lakebay, Wash.

January 29, 2007
NASA Flight to Include Experiment by Washington State Students
Washington State students will have a unique opportunity to conduct microgravity research on NASA's 'Weightless Wonder' reduced-gravity aircraft, a modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9, as part of the space agency's effort to support student advancement in science.

On Feb 9, 2007, a team of educators from Key Peninsula Middle School, Lakebay Wash., will board the C-9 at Johnson Space Center's Ellington Field in Houston with a student-designed experiment to measure the amount of pressure released in a reaction of vinegar and baking soda. The collected data will be compared with data collected by Key Peninsula Middle School students under normal gravity conditions. Teachers Amy D'Andrea, Briana Randall, Ron Stark, Kathleen Tucker-Patton and NASA mentor Reeve Ingle comprise the primary flight crew. The flight crew will be joined by former students John DeLeo and Brett Knisely, who will serve on the ground crew.

"We feel very fortunate to have been selected to fly an experiment on NASA's reduced gravity aircraft," said Kareen Borders, NASA Explorer School team lead at Key Peninsula Middle School. "This opportunity is one more connection that students are able to make with the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) community through a collaboration with NASA scientists and engineers. We are very proud of our students," she added.

Following their flight, the teachers will share their experiences and scientific data with their students during a video conference using NASA's Digital Learning Network. Post-flight, teachers and students will present a final report to a NASA panel describing the experiment's effectiveness, scientific findings and conclusions.

Key Peninsula was one of 20 NASA Explorer School (NES) teams selected for this unique experience, which will give teachers the feeling of space travel as the aircraft carefully executes a series of parabolic maneuvers creating about 25 seconds of weightlessness. To produce each parabola, the C-9 will make a steep climb followed by an equally steep dive.

Key Peninsula Middle School was selected in 2004 for the NASA Explorer School Program, a three-year partnership to develop the nation's future science, technology, engineering and mathematics work force. The school was the first of two NASA Explorer Schools in Washington.

Through this grant, the school has taken part in many unique opportunities to help address the math and science needs of its students. Recently, Key Peninsula's participation in the NES program has led to the school's recognition by Terry Bergeson, state superintendent of public instruction, as one of three middle schools highlighted as making exceptional progress in the state of Washington.

Key Peninsula celebrated its selection for the microgravity experiment on Jan. 3 by holding a 'NASA Family Night' for the community. During the evening, parents, children and staff participated in various 'zero gravity' activities.

The NASA Explorer School Program continues the agency's tradition of investing in the nation's education programs. It is directly tied to NASA's major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations and career ambitions of America's young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in STEM education programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines critical to NASA's future engineering, scientific and technical missions.

For more information on NASA Explorer Schools on the Internet, go to:

For more information on other NASA Reduced Gravity Programs, call Debbie Nguyen of NASA Johnson Space Center at 281-483-5111, or visit the Web at:

For more information about Key Peninsula Middle School, visit:


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