Dr. Jeff is Doing a Webcast for Challenger Center for Space Science Education – Tune in Thursday April 29 at 1:00 pm EDT

 Posted by DrJeff on April 27th, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog

 

 

Photo caption: Dr. Jeff after a Family Science Night for 600 kids, parents, and teachers. Pretty cool—kids want an autograph …. from an astrophysicist.

 

Now this should be a blast! My friend Rita Karl, Director of Education at Challenger Center for Space Science Education invited me to do a live webcast. Thanks Rita! It will give me an opportunity to present directly to classes lots of the stuff I’ve been doing here at the Blog. We really hope students across the U.S. and beyond might be able to tune in and get a deeper sense of their world in a greater space. I’ve also written up ideas for teachers on how to leverage the webcast with activities and lessons in the classroom.

 

For a description of what I’ll be talking about, information on how to tune in, and how to put this webcast to work in your classroom (or at home if you homeschool) check out the latest NCESSE News at the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education website.

 

See you Thursday!

 

-dj

 

Hero Engineers and Scientists Preparing for MESSENGER Spacecraft Orbit of Mercury

 Posted by DrJeff on April 22nd, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog

 

Mercury Northern Limb 3rd Flyby, September 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Caption: Stop what you are doing for a moment, just imagine the stark contrast between the surface of this world and the vacuum of space, and click on this photo for a Zoom. Be thankful on this 40th Earth Day for the veil of atmosphere above you, slender as it may be. NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft took this image of Mercury’s northern horizon on September 29, 2009, during its third and final flyby of Mercury, as we were covering the event live via Twitter from Mission Control in Columbia, Maryland. This image captures portions of Mercury we had never before seen—it represents history in the making. I invite you to read more about this image at the MESSENGER mission gallery.

 

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

This is crossposted at the Space Tweep Society Blog HERE.

 

FLASH: We interrupt the rhythm of your daily lives to bring you news from beyond Earth, from a tiny robot determined to take the human race to an alien world. Many of you tuned in September 2009 when Blog on the Universe provided live coverage of the MESSENGER spacecraft’s flyby of Mercury, the last gravity assist needed to get the spacecraft on course for Mercury orbital insertion in March 2011. We are now less than 11 months from that historic first—a spacecraft in orbit around the mysterious inner-most planet of our Solar System. You might want to bookmark the countdown clock.

 

Since last September 29, 7 months of our lives have been filled with a new school year, passage of seasons, and the ebb and flow of over 200 days. Meanwhile, dutifully navigating through the harsh environment of space, our little spacecraft has been steadily gaining on its rendezvous with destiny on March 18, 2011, under the watchful eyes of its extended family back on Earth—the MESSENGER Team. For this team, those 200+ days were filled with assessing data already broadcast to Earth from MESSENGER’s 3 prior flybys of the planet, and preparing for orbital insertion and on-orbit operations.

 

These engineers and scientists are the current generation of explorers on the frontiers of human exploration, and ought to be held up to our children as heroes and role models in the age of high technology—and at a time when America needs to step to the plate in science and technology education if we are to compete in the 21st century (you might want to read my related essay at Huffington Post.) So meet these heroes and role models—the Core Team, the Science Team, the Instrument Team, the Engineering Team, and the Mission Operations Team. Have a conversation with your kids, or if you are a teacher, have a conversation with your class about this remarkable group of folks. And to really get up close and personal, read how cool operations engineer Ray Espiritu got from his dream in middle school to being part of the MESSENGER mission. Read highlights on the lives of other MESSENGER Team members using the button at the bottom of the Highlights Page.

 

So now for some really exciting news sent to the entire MESSENGER Team via email on April 18, 2010, by Eric J. Finnegan, MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer. I have provided the text of Eric’s email without modification to give you a sense of the behind-the-scenes communication and spirit of teamwork that a group of folks like you and me is undertaking on behalf of humanity. We are now fully engaged in preparations for an encounter with another world—

 

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Space Shuttle Discovery Lands This Morning – Make it a Teachable Moment

 Posted by DrJeff on April 20th, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog

 

Photo Caption: Space Shuttle Discovery docked at the International Space Station on April 16,2010. The Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module is visible in Discovery’s payload bay. More at the NASA image library for STS-131.

 

This is a Teachable Moments in the News QuickLinks Post. It connects a news story with this Blog’s existing powerful library of Posts and Resource Pages. The cited Posts and Pages provide a deep understanding of concepts in the earth and space sciences relevant to the news story. Teachers—the Posts and Pages are also designed for use as lessons, allowing you to easily bring current science into the classroom as a teachable moment. Each cited Post is outlined in the Teachers Lesson Planner, which includes the Post’s essential questions, concepts, objectives, and math skills.



 

Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-131) is landing today. There are only 3 more flights of the Shuttle through September 2010 before retirement of the fleet. Watch Discovery’s landing on NASA TV with your class this morning.

 

Make this a teachable moment! Below are previous posts at Blog on the Universe that powerfully address the science, history, and politics of human spaceflight—and all of them embrace the notion that science education is about conceptual understanding at an emotional level.

 

I suggest you start with my February 6, 2010 post Shuttle Endeavour About to Blast Off on its Second to Last Mission, where I talk about what it will be like for all of us when the Space Shuttle stops flying, and the era of this remarkable machine fades into history. This is a very powerful lesson for students that may not realize they are living through a moment in history.

 

Finally, if you have memories of the Space Shuttle you’d like to share with other readers of this Blog, you’re invited to leave a comment below.

 

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