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DIY Space-flight Experiments for High Schoolers

Earth's Horizon (Image by NASA)Two Houston engineers have won a competition for low-cost experiments that high school students could send aboard a suborbital space flight. They have designed an inexpensive microgravity spaceflight kit that allows students to conduct three experiments demonstrating important principles of science and engineering.

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Feature: Unlimited Space

Aerospace - First Zero G2Many kids dream of exploring space, but few get much further than their schoolyards. This is not true of students in Tekna-Theos, a Florida after-school program bursting with science activities and contests. They’ve set their sights high, designing and building mini-satellites and preparing a payload to test the effect of weightlessness on bone cells. Some have actually experienced “Zero-G.”

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Students’ Summer: Aerospace at U. Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Illinois Aerospace Institute summer camp – IAI is a one-week residential program, July 17-23, 2011, for students grades 9-12 interested in aerospace engineering and aviation, held on the campus of the University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Students learn about a variety of topics relating to aerospace engineering through classroom sessions, laboratories, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Cost.$700. Application Deadline: April 15.

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Lesson: Build a Lunar Lander


In this lesson, students assume the role of NASA aerospace engineers, following the engineering design process to learn the steps for designing, creating, and improving equipment. They design and build a shock-absorbing system that will protect two “astronauts” when they land, and come to understand some of the challenges of lunar landings.

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Online Magazine: Astrobiology Magazine

previewAstrobiology Magazine is a NASA-sponsored online popular science magazine, with stories that profile current exciting news across the wide, interdisciplinary field of astrobiology — the study of life in the universe. The magazine publishes new stories daily, and, in addition to a large article archive, offers a catalogue of podcasts, notes from the field, blogs, and other types of multimedia.

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Web Resource: NASA Simulation Launch Software


Based on the actual software currently used for training at its Launch Control Center, NASA’s downloadable Kennedy Launch Academy Simulation System Software (KLASS) enables a launch countdown simulation with a networked system of computers. The supporting KLASS Curriculum is a series of STEM lesson plans for students grades 6-10 with interactive resources that build to a simulated shuttle launch.

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Class Activity: Satellite Tracker

In this activity, middle school students use tracking software available on the Internet to monitor a very large satellite, the International Space Station. Using information from this online resource, students predict and graph the motion of the space station at their location and create a 3-D display of its path through the sky.

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Lesson: Design a Parachute

Students create a parachute using different materials they think will work best. They test their designs then join a class discussion and possible journal writing to evaluate which paper material worked best.

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