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Barbara Schwartz January 6, 1993

Release No. 93-003


The STS-54 Space Shuttle astronauts will teach "Physics of Toys" to elementary level students during their mission scheduled to launch Jan. 13. Assuming an on-time launch, the live event is scheduled at 11:15 a.m. CST on Jan. 15.

In addition to their primary payload of a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, the crew will carry a collection of children's toys for this educational project. Through telephone and television links, students at four schools around the country will talk with the astronauts while they are in space and discover how the toys function differently in the classroom compared to those on the Shuttle.

The schools are Thomas A. Edison Elementary, Willoughby, OH; Sacred Heart School, The Bronx, NY; Shaver Elementary School, Portland, OR; and Westwood Elementary, Flint, MI. The schools are located in the hometowns of the astronauts.

Teachers have used toys to help teach basic and advanced scientific principles and concepts of force, motion, and energy because many toys use these principles to function. By using toys, teachers are able to capture students' interest and to extend their experiences into new learning.

The astronauts, using toys, will be able to show the toy actions independent of the gravity vector, often an important force governing toy performance. Earth orbit provides an ideal classroom to study toys and observe subtle actions that are masked by gravity.

A list of toys to be flown is attached. The toys that will be used during the live lessons are the car and track, klacker balls, basketball, magnetic marbles, swimmers, mouse, gravitrons, and balloon helicopter. The entire collection of toys will be videotaped for an educational program to the distributed to schools in the Fall of 1993.


Carolyn Sumners, Ed.D., director of astronomy and physics at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston, is the sponsor of this project. She developed the Toys in Space project which was first flown on STS 51-D in April 1985 that resulted in one of the most popular educational resources NASA has offered to schools.

Mission coverage, including the lessons, is in the public domain and is carried on NASA Select television, SATCOM F2R, transponder 13, at 72 degrees west longitude.



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