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March 19, 1998

Ed Campion
Johnson Space Center, Houston
Phone: 281/483-5111

Release: J98-7

Jason IX Project Live Broadcasts Underway at JSC

JSC civil service and contractor employees are nearing the halfway point of the JASON IX Project, a program allowing thousands of area students and teachers to participate in live telepresence broadcasts with research sites in Monterey Bay and Bermuda.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center is serving as a primary interactive network (PIN) site for the telecasts which began earlier this week and will continue weekdays at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. through March 27 in JSC’s Teague Auditorium.

The JASON Project is a year-round scientific expedition designed to excite and engage students in science and technology. It was founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, after his discovery of the R.M.S. Titanic. This year's JASON IX Project titled "Oceans of Earth and Beyond" is designed to study the structure of shallow, mid-water and deep ocean environments and the life they support.

Students will explore a variety of marine communities and related phenomena such as coral reefs, kelp forests, hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, marine snow and exotic deep sea creatures. Students also will find out how recent discoveries in space are providing new clues to the origin of the earth's oceans and will explore the latest evidence of oceans beyond Earth, on Jupiter's moon, Europa.

During the two week program, over 2000 teachers and students will take field trips to JSC for the JASON IX broadcasts. Students and teachers spend countless hours both in and out of the classroom preparing for the telepresence experience.

JSC's Education and Information Services Branch provided comprehensive professional development workshops for 130 teachers in December 1997, where they received free JASON IX curriculum to ensure that their students understand the scientific principles they'll encounter during the live television program. The teachers participated in hands-on classroom activities from the curriculum led by Gordon Eskridge, an aerospace education specialist from Oklahoma State University.

As an additional professional development opportunity, JSC invited experts from Armand Bayou Nature Center, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas State Aquarium, Sea Center Texas and Sea Camp at Texas A&M University at Galveston to give presentations to help teachers implement the many JASON IX curriculum investigations.

Each year, a number of students and teachers are selected to accompany Dr. Ballard on the JASON Project expedition as argonauts. These special ambassadors help the scientist on site with their research and explain the activities to the telepresence audience.

This is the first time JSC has a student argonaut since the outreach program began participating as a PIN site in 1993. Nicholas Cenegy, an eighth grader at McCullough Junior High School in the Conroe Independent School District, was selected based on his interest and ability in science and technology and good leadership skills. "Science is my absolute favorite subject in school," wrote Nicholas in his argonaut application. "It's so stimulating and fascinating, and it is involved in our everyday life."


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