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NASA Selects Robert L. Ford Experiment for 'Weightless Wonder' Flight
NASA has selected Robert L. Ford to fly their experiment aboard the agency’s reduced gravity aircraft, the “Weightless Wonder,” a modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9.

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

The teachers and students have already finished designing and building their proposed project which is now flight-ready. David Romanowski, seventh grade special education teacher at Robert L. Ford, is already at NASA’s aircraft facility at Ellington Field, Johnson Space Center in Houston preparing for the flight.

Other Robert L. Ford teachers will arrive at Ellington this week to participate in the flight scheduled for Friday, Feb. 9. Following their flight, at 11:45 a.m. EST the teachers will be able to share their experiences and immediate findings with their students back at home via video conferencing technology through NASA’s Digital Learning Network.

Robert L. Ford was selected a NASA Explorer School in 2006, which has allowed the school an opportunity to propose a reduced gravity experiment. The program, which now has 175 teams nationwide, allows schools and their communities to work with NASA in a three-year partnership to develop the nation's future science, technology, engineering and mathematics work force.

The Robert L. Ford experiment, Water Droplet Interaction, will explore the effects on water droplets in a microgravity environment. Students will compare these results with data collected during an earlier experiment on the ground. Following three months of analyses, the student team will issue a final report about the scientific findings and conclusions drawn from the results.

With this program, NASA continues the Agency’s tradition of investing in the Nation’s education programs. It is directly tied the Agency's major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, 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

Dewayne Washington
Goddard Space Flight Center