Amy Johnson
Langley Research Center

Lindsay Cazel
CK-12 Foundation
RELEASE : 10-086
NASA Teams With 'CK-12' Foundation on Physics Flexbook
HAMPTON, Va. -- A new chapter added to an online physics textbook will put relevant and timely NASA material at the hands of science educators across the country.

NASA and the non-profit CK-12 Foundation announce the addition of a new chapter to CK-12's 21st Century Physics FlexBook: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies.

The FlexBook is a collaborative effort by Virginia's Secretaries of Education and Technology and the state Department of Education and makes Virginia the first state to have an organized compilation of open education resources dedicated to physics. It represents an important step in keeping science information pertinent and accurate through the emerging trend of online textbooks or ebooks.

The new chapter is written by Randy Caton, a retired physics professor from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and former educator at NASA Langley. It provides students and teachers with a look at a contemporary NASA space transportation project and explains how simulation-based engineering is used to develop new technology -- in this case, the Launch Abort System (LAS), which is managed at NASA Langley. The LAS is a state-of-the-art astronaut escape system, created to significantly improve flight crew safety.

The chapter engages learners by having them create simulations related to the LAS, which get progressively more difficult. The simulations use Etoys, a free, open-source computer environment that empowers students to make their thinking visible through creative authoring.

The FlexBook is designed to allow for updates and additional chapters on contemporary and emerging issues on a regular basis. It is also standards-aligned and customizable by subject, language and level of difficulty. In addition, it is self-publishable, giving teachers the flexibility to create tailored educational content for their students. Instead of waiting years for an updated textbook, teachers will have the latest information at their fingertips. CK-12 Foundation, based in California, provides the free open-content technology platform for the FlexBook.

The 2009 edition of the Physics FlexBook includes chapters on topics such as quarks, gravitation and nanoscience.

In 2007, Jim Batterson, former NASA Langley deputy director of strategic development and senior advisor to the Commonwealth of Virginia for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives, led three joint NASA/Virginia Secretary of Education-sponsored panels of practicing scientists and engineers who reviewed and made recommendations regarding Virginia's science content standards.

Batterson said, "This Physics Flexbook meets one of the major recommendations of the review panels, which is to make 21st century content that has been reasonably vetted freely available to all teachers in a time scale of weeks rather than years, as been the case with standard printed high school textbooks."

The new chapter is available on the website now at:

For more information about NASA's Education programs, visit:

This work was sponsored under NASA's commitment to contribute to and support K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the nation.


- end -

text-only version of this release