Kennedy Education

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Almost Like Being There
Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and Digital Learning Network Coordinator Damon Talley.

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana (left) and DLN Coordinator Damon Talley broadcast to 200 students from around the country. Image credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

When students can't participate in an educational event in person at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Digital Learning Network can broadcast the event to them live, right in their classroom.

Bob Cabana, a former space shuttle commander and Kennedy's current director, wore his blue astronaut jacket for his first stint on the network, called DLN for short.

"It was fun talking to the students," Cabana said. "If we can't do it in person, then the DLN is the next best way to reach them." During the hour-long interaction with 200 students on Dec. 8, Cabana answered questions about his education and career, launching and flying a space shuttle, eating space food, wearing a spacesuit and adjusting to weightlessness in space.

He spoke to students and their teachers from Conyers Middle School in Conyers, Ga.; Farnsworth Aerospace Magnet School in St. Paul, Minn.; Vintage Math Science Technology Magnet School in North Hills, Calif.; and students from the middle school he attended, Folwell Middle School, in Minneapolis, Minn., during the "America's Spaceport: John F. Kennedy Space Center" DLN module.

Cabana told the students it's important to have goals and work hard in school. When asked about valuable lessons he's learned during his career he said, "Always do your best, be kind and considerate of other people and have integrity."

DLN Coordinator Damon Talley, with Oklahoma State University, is responsible for the development, delivery and production of all live interactive videoconferences for the center's Education Division, and serves as presenter and moderator during DLN events.

"It's so important to reach students across the country who can't travel to Kennedy," Talley said. "Since its start at Kennedy in 2005, DLN has reached 38,413 students in K-12."

NASA's DLN was formed in 2003 and the program is funded in part by the NASA Explorer Schools program and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. It is an agencywide education program that uses content from all 10 NASA centers.

The DLN mission is to inspire, engage and educate students and teachers, connecting them with NASA scientists, engineers and education specialists through interactive technology, including videoconferencing and webcasting. DLN focuses on four mission directorates: Aeronautics Research, Exploration Systems, Science, and Space Operations.

According to Cheryl Johnson, NASA DLN project specialist, the goal was to make a network of NASA centers with the capabilities and resources to promote high-quality, interactive and educational programs for teachers and students.

"All of the modules adhere to the Education National Standards," Johnson said. "The America's Spaceport module is the second most popular and requested module throughout the nation."

› Learn more about the Digital Learning Network
Linda Herridge
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center