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Launch Services Program Supports NASA Family Education Nights
An LSP engineer demonstrates a clean suit LSP Engineer Charles Tatro helps demonstrate a "clean suit" with a young student.
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Two LSP engineers support NASA Family Night LSP Engineers John Hueckel, left, and Charles Tatro, right, describe the giant hair helmet to students during Family Education Night.
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Fun, hands-on and entertaining is how students described the educational sessions conducted by the Launch Services Program (LSP) Outreach Office during NASA’s Family Education Nights. The Kennedy Space Center Education Office and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex hosted the annual NASA Family Education Night Sept. 10, from 5 to 9 p.m. EDT, at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This back-to-school event was part of NASA's Summer of Innovation initiative to provide interactive learning experiences to middle school students nationwide. The program is a cornerstone of the Educate to Innovate campaign announced by President Barack Obama in 2009.

In its second year, the event allows the LSP Outreach Office to work directly with students and parents using hands-on activities and highlighting the work done by LSP engineers and scientists on real NASA missions.

LSP Engineers Charles Tatro, Larry Craig and John Hueckel worked with the LSP Outreach Office to conduct engaging activities that highlighted real-world concepts. Their topic was "NASA Clean Rooms" and how LSP engineers make sure these rooms stay free of dirt, hair and other contaminants when working on spaceflight hardware.

"It was fun getting kids to volunteer to help with imagining how small the particles are that we worry about in the clean rooms," said John Hueckel, LSP Engineer. "They all liked the giant hair (with giant dirt attached) demonstration and walking on the tacky mats."

LSP Engineer Charles Tatro agrees that hands-on activities are great for kids and can be very inspiring. "I feel that if you can excite a student about what they can achieve through math and science and give them an appreciation of what NASA does, that excitement and interest will spread like ripples across a pond, positively impacting their lives from that moment on."

Christopher Blair,
NASA's Launch Services Program