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February 23, 2000

Ann Hutchison
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(Phone: 281-483-5111)

Release: J00-12

Johnson Space Center and Jason Project Help Students Explore Life on Earth and in Space

Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the RMS Titanic, along with former astronaut Dr. Kathy Sullivan, will take students throughout the country on a virtual tour exploring the realms of inner and outer space.

The Johnson Space Center will co-host a series of live interactive broadcasts during this year’s JASON XI Project, "Going to Extremes.” The project will explore two platforms, one in space and one under water, that enable humans to go beyond their physical limitations to explore the unknown and ask the question “why?.”

JSC’s unique Mockup and Integration Facility and its Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, where astronauts train for space flight, will be the sites of the NASA broadcasts beginning February 28. The broadcasts will continue weekdays through March 10 at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. in JSC’s Teague Auditorium.

The JASON Project is a year-round scientific expedition founded by Ballard in 1989 designed to excite and engage students in grades 4 through 9 in science and technology. The project also provides professional development to teachers.

During the expedition, participants will take a “tour” of the International Space Station to learn how astronauts will live while carrying out critical research. Host researchers at JSC include Astronaut Bill Shepherd, commander of the first crew scheduled to live aboard the new International Space Station. The host researchers demonstrate hardware, operate systems in mockups-trainers, and deliver some of the instructional content. -MORE- -2-

Live broadcasts also will originate from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquarius underwater laboratory in the Florida Keys – the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory. Participants will examine our marine ecosystem by interacting with aquanauts living underwater in Aquarius for a week or more as they study seafloor specimens and evaluate coral reef life.

Students will learn about the design, engineering and maintenance of the ISS and Aquarius, the intensive training involved in preparing researchers for the extreme environments of space and sea, and the research conducted from these platforms. They also will learn how people survive in these extreme environments, explore the limitations of physiology and how new technology allows us to overcome our limitations in these harsh environments.

During the two-week program, which will include 55 hours of live, interactive broadcasts from the expedition sites, more than 4,000 teachers and students will take field trips to JSC for the JASON XI broadcasts. Students and teachers spend countless hours both in and out of the classroom preparing for the telepresence experience.

JSC’s Education and Community Support Branch provided comprehensive professional development workshops for nearly 350 teachers from November 1999 through January 2000. During training, NASA provided JASON XI curriculum materials at no cost to the teachers to ensure that their students understand the scientific principles they will encounter during the live television programs. The teachers participated in hands-on, curriculum-based classroom activities led by Angelo Casaburri, an aerospace education specialist, and Delicia Slaughter, JSC’s education outreach program coordinator. Each year, a few students and teachers are selected to accompany Ballard on the JASON Project expedition as Argonauts. These special ambassadors help the scientist on site with research and explain the activities to the telepresence audience. They also interact with the host researchers during their activities.

JSC’s student Argonaut this year is Brian Stratton, a freshman at Ball High School in Galveston. He was one of only 20 students selected from across the country to participate in JASON XI as an argonaut. Stratton has always had an interest in science. “I like that I get to go somewhere else, have fun and learn new things,” he added.

Program co-host Sullivan currently serves as the director of the Center of Science and Industry, Columbus, Ohio.

More information about the JASON XI Project can be found at the following URL:


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