Chatting with NASA last week – video-link

NASA_VideoHere’s the link to the video conference with NASA on 21 Feb., 2013.

This was in collaboration with the Digital Learning Network, and Salt River High School.

In case you wondered, DNL is not just a one-off activity at NASA. It backs a well integrated STEM-based program, bringing in its heavyweight research and launch facilities: Jet Propulsion Lab, Johnson Space Center, Ames, Dryden– and Glenn Flight Research Center and Goddard Space Flight Center.

To watch the video, click on image or use this link.

Hands-on With the Mars Rover

Stopped by the Mars Space Flight Facility at ASU this morning to pick up a cardboard box that has some exciting contents.

Nicely bubble-wrapped inside is a wheel of the Mars Opportunity rover. My students have been watching the landing, and discussing the mechanical parts of the latest rover, Curiosity, that’s moving around on the red planet, right now.

But to give them a sense of history and perspective –my robotics class from last year knows this–I compare the dimensions of Opportunity (and its twin, Spirit, that have been hanging out on Mars since 2007), to Curiosity. A wheel is a great way to size up something, isn’t it? Take a look at the comparison in the photo from JPL. The guys in the white ab coats are there for a reason, to give us a sense of proportion.

L to R: Mars Opportunity, Sojourner, Curiosity

Also, more to the point, ASU loaned me the wheel for an upcoming event I am putting together for my 4th, 4th and 6th grade classes. It will be called MARS DAY. It will involve a build up over the next few weeks; the librarian, Mary Chabot, and I have Mars- and space-related material in our lesson plans. Also to be announced, a poster competition, and perhaps one more exciting component.

Stay tuned. The wheels are in motion; pun intended.