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January 30, 2004

Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Headquarters, Washington

Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Release: #H04-046


This spring, NASA Explorer Schools teams of teachers and administrators from Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa will fly aboard NASA's "weightless wonder", a KC-135A aircraft, as part of NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program.

For the first time, teams from NASA Explorer Schools will participate in NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities program. Participants will design and build experiments for a microgravity environment and fly them aboard NASA's KC-135A aircraft. As a flying science laboratory, the KC-135A alternates steep climbs and dives, riders experience the best opportunity at weightlessness available on Earth.

The NASA Explorer Schools selected to fly in 2004 are: Pender Public Schools, Pender, Neb., Crossroads Elementary School, Saint Paul, Minn., and Sioux Central Middle School, Sioux Rapids, Iowa.

Teams of students and teachers from these NASA Explorer Schools, working in collaboration with NASA scientist-mentors, will develop experiments that two teachers per school will conduct during flights aboard the aircraft. The flights will take place April 15-21 from Houston's Ellington Field, near NASA's Johnson Space Center.

"One of the goals of the NES program is to provide teachers and their students with unique opportunities that are inquiry-based, 'as only NASA can'," said Peggy Steffen, NASA Explorer Schools program manager. "Developing an experiment to fly on the reduced gravity aircraft with the assistance of a NASA scientist-mentor will provide the students an opportunity to investigate a real-world application of physical science."

The NASA Explorer Schools Program, started in June 2003, establishes a three-year partnership between NASA and 50 new NASA Explorer Schools teams annually. The teams consist of teachers and education administrators from diverse communities across the country. During the commitment period, NASA invites teams to NASA Centers to spark innovative science and mathematics instruction directed specifically at students in grades four through nine. The selected schools are also eligible for up to $17,500 in grants over the three years of involvement, pending continued funding. The deadline for 2004 NASA Explorer Schools Program applications is midnight tonight.

For more information about the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities program on the Internet, and access to a short video about the program, visit:

For information about the NASA Explorer Schools Program on the Internet, visit:

For information about other NASA educational programs on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA on the Internet, visit:


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