Saturday, June 16, 2012

NASA's Explorer Schools

"NASA's Explorer Schools"," And so they do, of course, but the nation's space agency has its hand in more earthly pursuits, as well--pursuits that may well have a direct influence on the children in your life.
 When a partnership agreement is reached, teachers and a school administrator team up to develop and implement a three-year action plan that addresses local challenges in the subjects mentioned earlier.

Program elements include professional development workshops during the summer months in which teams of educators meet at the nine NASA Field Centers and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Throughout the school year, ongoing research-based professional development includes NASA aerospace education specialists, Space Grant consortia, educator resource centers, and NASA Education networks.
 The real-life examples are much more exciting.
 But, hey, robots have to have some fun too, right? For the past three years, students at Explorer Schools have been accepting the challenge to build and program robots to compete with opponents on a field the size of a ping-pong table.
"" Robotics teams worked autonomously to locate a plush robot and his ""tribble"" friends.
 They're the round, furry animals that reproduce faster than spam in your Inbox.
 (It's a bit like Survivor, without the bikinis.
 The competing teams built their robots from an official kit containing such goodies as 1,800 LEGO building blocks, two Xport Botball Controllers (XBCs, attached to Nintendo® Game Boy Advance devices), and 20 censors, including color-recognition cameras.

The annual botball challenges have generated so much enthusiasm that at least 13 regional tournaments are held across the United States.
 The 2007 national tournament will be held in Honolulu in July, and will be one of the events at the National Conference on Educational Robotics.
"" Bowman added that the botball program exposed the students to new careers, taught them to use a variety of technology, increased self confidence, developed complex thinking, and showed the importance of team playing.
 These students of Shirley Avenue Elementary School in Reseda, California (part of the Explorer network), had 10 days to study three target options and decide which opportunity would make the most scientific sense.

Mission planners calculated the needed maneuvers and sent the commands to the spacecraft.

The ""Cassini Scientist for a Day"" activity helped them understand how much time it takes to gather scientific information, and how complicated it is to make decisions.
 ""The activity brought a higher level of thinking; they kept coming up with good questions.
 In early 2006, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, announced a $2,500 grant to students in Southfield, Michigan, to help them design, build and launch their own rocket.

The Student Launch Initiative is jointly managed by the Marshall Center in partnership with the Huntsville Area Rocketry Association, a group of rocket enthusiasts and engineers who launch their own rockets.
 Students can request guidance from professional engineers during the design and testing phases.

The teams display and launch their rockets in a competition.
 The rocket must reach an altitude of one mile during flight and be reusable.
 The winning teams receive a school trophy.
 Up to 50 teams will be added each year, for a maximum total of 150 teams.

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