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NASA Explorer Students' Accomplishments Highlighted
A pendulum swinging beneath a clock inspired fifth-grade students Shareena and Yamilka from Robert L. Ford Middle School to test how a pendulum's mass, angle of release and length of string would be affected in a reduced or hyper gravity environment.

Yamilka said they weren't nervous as they presented their project. Explorer school students

Image: At NASA Kennedy Space Center's Educator Resource Center, students participate in a cleaning water activity during the NASA Explorer Schools 2010 Student Symposium. From left, are fifth-graders Samantha and Thiffany from Dr. H. Rodriguez Elementary School and Evan from John B. Cary Elementary School. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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"We knew the data, and the other students were learning something new as well," Yamilka said.

They were among 70 third- through ninth-grade students from 35 NASA Explorer Schools around the country who presented their research projects to their peers, NASA engineers, scientists and education specialists during the NASA Explorer Schools 2010 Student Symposium. NASA Kennedy Space Center's Education Division hosted the three-day event, May 5 to 8.

Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana welcomed the students and their teachers to the symposium at the Doubletree Hotel in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Cabana told the students they should be very proud of themselves for being selected to participate in the symposium and hoped they would enjoy their time at Kennedy.

"Ask questions and learn. Do your best and don't give up," Cabana said.

Jo Ann Charleston, NASA chief of the Educational Programs Office at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, commended the students for working diligently on their research projects.

"It is awesome that students in middle school can be so involved and interested in NASA's research projects. This will help to mold you and prepare you for your destiny," Charleston said. "We want you to be part of our NASA family."

Charlotte Groty, a teacher from North Ridge Magnet School, brought fourth-grade students Josiah and Nathan to the symposium. They presented their class research project, "How T.O.Y.S. work in Microgravity."

"We have had tremendous opportunities because of NASA that we normally would not have," Groty said.

The Pendulums and T.O.Y.S experiments were among several projects that were tested on NASA's Zero-G plane, either by the teachers, an astronaut or research specialist in order to gather research data.

Eighth-grade students Kelson and Alex from Key Peninsula Middle School tested creek water for their "Lunar Water Purification System" project. They and their classmates were challenged to design and build an efficient water recycling system that would work on a lunar base. Explorer school students

Image: Students participate in a heavy-lift activity using balloons, paper clips, paper cups and tape during the NASA Explorer Schools 2010 Student Symposium at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Educator Resource Center. From left, are sixth-graders Christopher from Phenix City Intermediate School, and Jaycob from Johnson Magnet School for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and third-grader Zachary from Vintage Magnet School. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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"We were able to take contaminated water and return it to its original form," Kelson said during the presentation. "We drank the water after it was filtered. We had faith in our system."

During the event, the students toured Kennedy, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, and participated in several educational activities and a career panel that featured Kennedy representatives from education, regional weather forecasting, various fields of engineering, analytical chemistry, navigational aids, gas and fluids engineering, and writing.

"I liked the tour of Kennedy and getting to ask engineers questions about space travel," a student participant said.

The symposium also offered educator professional development opportunities for the teachers.

At the closing event, Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Education Gregg Buckingham, and Charleston, recognized the teachers and students with certificates and medals.

"Teamwork is important," Buckingham said to the students. "It takes a team of people to do what we do here at Kennedy."

The agency has 200 NASA Explorer Schools with 10 project coordinators and four project assistants. They are supported by the National Science Teachers Association and NASA education project specialists from Oklahoma State University.

Each year in the spring, more than 1,000 students complete research investigations focused on NASA missions or research interests and present their projects on NASA's Digital Learning Network. From these entries, the top school projects are competitively selected by their peers to participate in the symposium.

Priscilla Moore, an education specialist at Kennedy, said, "NASA's Explorer Schools Program promotes and supports the agency's content and programs into science, technology and mathematics curricula in fourth- through ninth-grade classrooms across the country."

For more information about NASA Explorer Schools and other NASA education programs, visit:
› NASA Explorer Schools
› NASA Education

Linda Herridge
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center