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Press Release 96-27

Sally V. Harrington
NASA Lewis Research Center


CLEVELAND, OH -- Students, teachers and others across the U.S. soon will have the unique opportunity to explore how computer technology can be used as a tool to enhance the study of science and mathematics through learning experiences related to NASA aeronautics. NASA Lewis Research Center's Mobile Aeronautics Education Laboratory (MAEL) will bring this one-of-a-kind classroom to urban and rural communities across the country.

NASA Lewis, in cooperation with Cuyahoga Community College dedicated the MAEL on Friday, May 24, 1996. A dedication ceremony was held at 10:30 a.m. with representatives of the U.S. Congress, NASA Headquarters, Lewis Director Donald J. Campbell, Cuyahoga Community College President Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, and Cleveland area dignitaries assisting in the ceremony.

In addition to serving as a mobile classroom, R. Lynn Bondurant, MAEL project director stated, "The MAEL will permit NASA and Cuyahoga Community College to bring new technologies to partnership cities where we can assist local leadership to carry out systemic educational reform efforts in their own community. At other times, it can be used to showcase NASA's aeronautics programs at selected events.

"Cuyahoga Community College recognizes the need for early stimulation and development of technological interest and skills among students in order to produce a truly educated and innovative generation of technically trained engineers and mathematicians. Scientists are vital to the progress of our region and our country," commented Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, Cuyahoga Community College President. "The MAEL will help to provide practical hands-on scientific experiences for students, thus inspiring them to expand their knowledge base in scientifically related subjects."

In the MAEL, visitors will examine a variety of technologies through a curriculum that builds on NASA's success in aeronautics, Participants will have an opportunity to apply real-world problem-solving skills and explore workplace technologies, skills, abilities and math/science applications to careers in technology, engineering and aeronautics.

The inaugural curriculum "Exploring Aeronautics: Cross Country Flight" offers visitors "hands-on/minds-on" activities that will culminate in the completion of a flight plan and a multisensory virtual reality flight in a World War I vintage aircraft. Future curricula will be developed to highlight additional facets of aeronautics.

Using state-of-the-art workstations in the MAEL and working together as a flight crew, the participants will gather key flight data at the Internet/World Wide Web workstation, the Global Positioning System/Amateur Radio workstation and the Weather workstation. They will design and test their ideas in the Aircraft Design workstation and the Wind Tunnel and interpret real-life images at the Remote Sensing workstation or perform "hands-on" activities in the Activity Center.

In addition, participants will explore flight history and NASA aeronautics and learn about careers in aeronautics through activities included in the Aeronautics Interactive workstation. The Resource Center provides access to many unique reference materials.

Through a partnership between Lewis and Cuyahoga Community College, the MAEL was developed to support the efforts of the Lewis/Cuyahoga Community College co-sponsored Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) program. It will be utilized by SEMAA students in grades 9-12 to support aeronautics educational programs.

The MAEL curriculum was developed by a team of educators in the SEMAA program, NASA Lewis engineers, Cleveland-area teachers and educators from the Center of Applied Research in Education at Cleveland State University. Future curricula developed for use in the MAEL will involve SEMAA students in the creation and evaluation of the activity.

The 53-foot trailer will travel six months every year to various partnership cities. It will also travel to the other three NASA Aeronautics Centers--Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA; Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA; and Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. While at its home base, near the NASA Lewis' Visitor Center in Cleveland, OH, the MAEL will serve as a test bed to study the impact of technology on the teaching of math and science using NASA aeronautics as a theme. It will also continue to demonstrate new technologies, as they emerge, to offer teachers, administrators and policymakers extraordinary glimpses into the learning process and into the future of education.

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