For release: 02/19/02
Release #: 02-035
Montana's U.S. Sen. Burns to join teacher workshop:
Montana students, teachers to prepare samples for International Space Station over next year
What: Montana students and teachers may soon join 11 other states participating in a NASA educational program. Over the next year, they may load biological samples that are delivered to the International Space Station as part of an experiment led by the University of California, Irvine.
News media are invited to attend a workshop for the education program. Interviews will be available with U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana. Representatives of NASA and the University of Montana and teachers participating in the science workshop will be available to talk with media.
More than 430 students and teachers have sent samples to the Space Station as part of the Enhanced Gaseous Nitrogen Dewar, a facility that has flown structural biology experiments three times on the Station. In workshops, students and teachers prepare, freeze and seal biological solutions in small tubes. These remain frozen until the Shuttle delivers the dewar, a thermos-like container, with the enclosed samples to the Station. As the samples thaw, crystals form. Later, the macromolecular crystals are returned to Earth where scientists study their structures to learn about the biochemistry of animals and plants.
Montana teachers from across the state will participate in a workshop led by University of California, Irvine scientists at the Hellgate Elementary Middle School in Missoula, Mont. Teachers will learn about biology and chemistry research on the Space Station and be shown how similar biological crystals can be grown in their classrooms. Before the workshop's conclusion, Burns will help researchers load samples to be transported to the Space Station in April when Space Shuttle Atlantis delivers the dewar experiment during the STS-110 mission. This dewar will be filled with around 150 samples loaded by teachers and students from Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia, and hundreds of samples loaded by scientists including Dr. Alex McPherson, the lead scientist from the University of California, Irvine. Samples to be loaded later this year by Montana students and
teachers are expected to be flown on the Space Station in 2003.
The Enhanced Gaseous Nitrogen Dewar experiment and the student program are sponsored by the Biotechnology Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the Office of Biological and Physical Research at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This event is being supported by the University of Montana in Missoula and the Montana Space Grant Consortium - a group of academia, business and non-profit organizations working together to strengthen aerospace research and education.
Who: U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana
NASA: Dr. Kathie Olsen, NASA chief scientist and acting associate administrator for NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research
University of Montana: George Bailey, assistant to the vice president of research and development Wes Snyder, professor of education and director of the Office of International Programs Bill Hiscock, director of Montana Space Grant Consortium
University of California, Irvine: Dr. Alexander (Alex) McPherson, principal investigator for the experiment Greg Jenkins, director of engineering and workshop leader.
When: Feb. 20, 2002, 9 a.m. MST: Teacher workshop to be followed by an afternoon press conference with Sen. Burns, NASA representatives and other participants.
Where: Hellgate Elementary Middle School Library, 2385 Flynn Lane, Missoula, Mont.
To attend: News media interested in covering the event should contact Steve Roy of the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034 or Rita Munzenrider, University of Montana Media Relations at (406) 243-4824.
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