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Amber Philman
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Phone: (321) 867-2468

RELEASE : 12-06
Local Teachers Fly and Experiment on NASA's 'Weightless Wonder'
Teachers from Oscar Patterson Middle School in Panama City, Fla., are taking their experiments out of the classroom and into NASA's "Weightless Wonder," a flying microgravity laboratory.

As part of their participation in the NASA Explorer Schools Program, Becky Peltenon, Christopher Blair, Samantha Rogers, Jim Gerard and Dr. Howard Levine will arrive on Feb. 13 at NASA's aircraft facility at Ellington Field, located near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They will spend a week preparing themselves and their experiments for a unique experience outside the bounds of gravity aboard the modified C-9 aircraft. The C-9 produces 25 seconds of weightlessness by flying in a roller-coaster-like path of steep climbs and free falls.

Oscar Patterson Middle School was selected as a NASA Explorer School in 2003 when it began a three-year partnership with NASA, using the agency's unique missions and resources to help address mathematics and science needs.

"By working with teachers to develop a microgravity experiment to fly on the aircraft, the investigations help students see an application of science and mathematics concepts," said NASA Explorer School Program Manager Peg Steffen. "Students worked closely with NASA engineers and scientist mentors on the experiments, giving them a first-hand look at possible careers."

The school's experiment will help develop NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. This experiment will test the effects of microgravity on capillary action in simulated plants.

Using the data gathered on the flight, teachers and students will submit a final report to NASA. They will discuss the experiment's effectiveness, scientific findings and conclusions.

The investigators who are flying the experiments at Johnson will also have the opportunity to communicate with their students in Panama City through videoconferencing via NASA's Digital Learning Network. After the teams return to Oscar Patterson Middle School, they will share the results of their science experiment with students through outreach activities.

For more information on NASA's Reduced Gravity Flight programs, call Debbie Nguyen of NASA Johnson Space Center at (281) 483-5111, or visit the Web at:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:


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