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For Release: April 23, 2002

Barbara L. Kakiris, InDyne, Inc.
Media Relations Office

Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office

Innovative Competition Coins New Phrase: "Drop on a Dime"

High school students conducting experiments and analyzing data with aerospace engineers? It may sound like a preview for the newest teen movie, but that's exactly what will happen April 23 - 25 when NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, hosts the Dropping In a Microgravity Environment (DIME) program.

DIME Drop Days consist of four high school teams who bring the experiments that they designed and built over the past several months to operate in Glenn's 2.2 Second Drop Tower. Each experiment will be videotaped and analyzed using a Glenn-developed video analysis program called Tracker. This program, which is used by microgravity researchers, digitizes motion in video data. Teams will alternately conduct their initial drop tower experiments and participate in LEGO™ Challenge, an engineering design activity, on Tuesday, April 23 from 1 - 4 p.m.

"This year's DIME program is really special because we had more student group applications with a broad range of topics," said Richard DeLombard, DIME program creator and engineer in Glenn's Microgravity Science Division. "I'm really impressed with the innovative experiments that will be performed in the drop tower-it will be a tremendous educational opportunity."

The public can also watch the teams conduct their primary experiments in the 2.2 Second Drop Tower during a live Internet broadcast on Wednesday, April 24 from 9 a.m. - noon and 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. A webcast of experiment operations will be available at:

Another exciting part of this year's program is a SCUBA orientation in which students must construct a large device similar to an International Space Station hatch underwater and have each team member successfully swim through it. The orientation is designed to parallel actual astronaut training and will take place at the Clarion Hotel Cleveland Airport West pool, Middleburg Heights, Ohio on Wednesday, April 24 from 7 - 9 p.m. Adventures in Diving, a SCUBA tour company in Strongsville, Ohio coordinated the activity with Glenn.

The four DIME 2002 teams and their experiment topics are:

  • Bay High School,Bay Village, Ohio

  • Meniscus Change in a Microgravity Environment
  • Center of Science and Industry Academy, Columbus, Ohio

  • Magnetic Fluids vs. Gravity
  • Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Combustion of 75 g/m2 Office Paper in Microgravity
  • Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Effects of Microgravity on Density Based Fluid Flow

While at Glenn, the teams will tour several of the Center's major facilities and microgravity laboratories, attend microgravity workshops and conduct data analyses with Glenn mentors.

DIME is a project-oriented educational program consisting of investigations and design challenges that lasts one school year. DIME links students directly to NASA's diverse and exciting missions of research, exploration and discovery. By participating in this competition, students develop an hypothesis that can be tested through experimentation and prepare a scientific research proposal.

The program is open to student teams in grades 9 - 12 comprised of groups such as science classes, clubs, or scout troops, and their advisors. To be eligible for participation, each group must develop an experiment concept, prepare a proposal for it and submit the proposal to Glenn. Teams are judged on criteria including the following: scientific objectives; technical plan; team organization; creativity, attention to detail; and originality. A panel of Glenn microgravity experts selects the top proposals.

Since its pilot year in 2001, DIME has made great progress and will become national next school year.

More information on the DIME competition is available online:

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Note to Editors: Media is invited to witness DIME activities first-hand on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Interested representatives should call ahead to Barbara Kakiris or the Media Relations Office (216-433-2901) in order to be cleared through security and escorted to the event.


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