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Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-0836)

Lynn Cominsky
Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, Calif.
(Phone: 707/664-2655)

December 11, 2003
RELEASE : 03-405
NASA Selects Educators To Bring Astronomy Down To Earth
NASA has selected 14 highly skilled educators for the agency's Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU) Educator Ambassador Program. The educators will work with NASA program and mission specialists to investigate the most exotic forms of energy and matter in the universe.

The NASA SEU Educator Ambassador program, led by Professor Lynn Cominsky and Dr. Philip Plait at the Sonoma State University, Education and Public Outreach Group, Rohnert Park, Calif., is starting its third year. The program has expanded to include 23 highly qualified teachers. They will help develop educational material for grades 6-12, based on the science behind several NASA missions and programs. Many ambassadors have won state and national awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The SEU Educator Ambassadors will test the material in their classrooms and then distribute it to other teachers nationwide through workshops at the state, regional and national levels. The NASA missions and programs supporting the ambassadors are all funded by NASA's Structure and Evolution of the Universe theme area. SEU seeks to explore and understand the dynamic transformations of energy in the universe, the entire web of biological and physical interactions that determine the evolution of our cosmic habitat. The SEU Educator Ambassadors will directly inspire a new generation of explorers, scientists and engineers.

"This is a great way to teach kids and their teachers about fascinating topics in high-energy and gravitational wave astronomy," said Cominsky. "It's a perfect marriage between the scientists and engineers who are designing, building and doing research with NASA satellites, and professional educators who are best suited to getting the information to students and other teachers."
Training for the teachers includes a 10-day intensive seminar at Sonoma State and Stanford Universities to immerse the educators in high-energy and gravitational wave astronomy.

"The workshop will be tough, but fun," Plait said. "We'll be talking about a lot of things in which most people are interested: huge black holes, warps in space-time, exploding stars and vast explosions that can fry a whole planet. Kids love this kind of stuff, and it's this type of science that is done in the SEU theme."

During the program, SEU Educator Ambassadors will work closely with the scientists involved with several NASA missions and programs, including the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope; the Swift mission, which will observe gamma-ray bursts; XMM-Newton, a joint NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) observatory; the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, another joint NASA/ESA observatory; the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, which will map the history of star birth in the Milky Way; Astro-E2, a joint mission between Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science and NASA; and NASA's High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center.

The 14 educators chosen as new SEU Educator Ambassadors are:

Jeffrey Adkins, Deer Valley High School, Antioch, Calif.; Dr. Tom Arnold, State College High School, State College, Pa.; David Beier, Lee's Summit R-7 School District in greater Kansas City, Mo.; Deanna Duncan, the School for Environmental Studies, Concord, N.C.; Mandy Frantti, Munising Public Schools, Munising, Mich.; Walter Glogowski, Ridgewood High School, Norridge, Ill.; Bruce Hemp, Fort Defiance High School, Fort Defiance, Va.; Ellen Holmes, Fairmount Elementary School, Bangor, Maine; Erich Landstrom, Boynton Beach Community High School, Boynton Beach, Fla.; Janet Moore, the Challenger Learning Center of Central Illinois, Bloomington, Ill.; Cheryl Niemala, Cascade Christian Schools, Puyallup, Wash.; A. Marie Pool, Clinton High School, Clinton, Okla.; Linda Smith, Paulsboro School District, Paulsboro, N.J.; and Pamela Whiffen, Palo Verde Middle School, Phoenix.

For more information about the NASA SEU Educator Ambassador program, visit:

For information about NASA education programs on the Internet, visit:


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