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NASA Selects John Evans Middle School in Potosi, Mo., to Experiment Aboard the 'Weightless Wonder'
Angela Storey
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

Randy David
Potosi R-3 School District, Mo.

News release: 07-009

NASA has selected John Evans Middle School in Potosi, Mo., to fly their experiment aboard the agency's reduced gravity aircraft, the "Weightless Wonder," a modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9.

The school was one of 20 NASA Explorer School (NES) teams selected for this unique experience, which will give teachers a feel of space as the aircraft carefully executes a series of parabolic maneuvers. To produce each parabola, the C-9 will make a steep climb followed by an equally steep dive, creating about 25 seconds of weightlessness.

The teachers and students will finish designing and building their proposed project to get it flight-ready. Once complete, science teachers John Harmon, Gary Helfner and Cheryl Maxwell will travel to NASA's aircraft facility at Ellington Field and the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Feb. 11 to prepare for their flight.

The John Evans Middle School teachers will travel to Ellington on the same day to prepare for their flight that week. Following their flight, at 2:30 p.m. CST on Feb. 15, the teachers will share their experiences and immediate findings with their students and local media back at home via video conferencing technology through NASA's Digital Learning Network.

The school was selected a NASA Explorer School in 2004, giving the school an opportunity to propose a reduced gravity experiment. The program, which now has 175 teams nationwide, allows schools and their communities to work with NASA in a three-year partnership to develop the nation's future science, technology, engineering and mathematics work force.

The school's experiment, Foam Rockets, will explore the distance traveled in microgravity, under normal gravity conditions on earth and double the pull of the earth's gravity. This experiment will prove their small rockets will fly longer in reduced gravity compared to the normal pull of the earth and also will fly a shorter distance and period of time under double the pull of gravity. The team will issue a final report three months after the flight that analyzes the experiment’s effectiveness, scientific findings and what conclusions were drawn from those results.

With this program, NASA continues the Agency's tradition of investing in the Nation's education programs. It is directly tied the Agency's major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations, and career ambitions of America's young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in STEM education programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines critical to NASA's future engineering, scientific and technical missions.

For more information on NASA Explorer Schools on the Internet, go to:

For more information on other NASA Reduced Gravity Programs, call Debbie Nguyen of NASA Johnson Space Center at 281-483-5111, or visit the Web at: