For release: 05/17/02
Release #: 02-125
Students from 13 states learn, share knowledge through ‘Challenge’ at NASA’s Marshall Center
Working with everyday materials in their classrooms, middle and high school students from 13 states have tackled some of the same issues NASA engineers face when designing spacecraft.
They did so as part of a NASA program called the Earth-to-Orbit Design Challenge. Now, to enhance their learning experience, 40 of these students are visiting the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to share lessons-learned and see some of the space agency’s work firsthand.
The NASA-sponsored educational program is aimed at letting students in their classrooms experience some of the challenges confronted by NASA engineers as they design the next generation of aerospace vehicles. It also helps students achieve national goals for developing science, math and thinking skills.
Using educational materials provided by NASA, teachers decide the appropriate time during the school year for students to tackle the program’s hands-on activities. The challenge is targeted at students in grades 6-9, and open to all schools.
The students involved in field evaluation or this year’s program were assigned a project to build an electrodynamic propulsion system capable of pushing a model train up an incline. Students will try to move a model "satellite" along a track using their own design with a specific set of materials. They will explore and discover the effects of wire in relation to size, shape, strength, direction of current, and its relationship to a magnetic field.
Under their teacher’s supervision, students documented their designs with sketches and written descriptions. The challenge culminates in the classroom, with each student team preparing a storyboard to describe the process and results of their work.
During their visit to the Marshall Center, the students will present their propulsion system designs and findings to engineers and education specialists from the Center. The students’ feedback will be captured and used in refining details of a classroom project to be made available on the Internet for teachers and students nationwide.
The students from schools in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington will tour the Marshall Center and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, which houses the world’s largest museum of space artifacts.
NASA uses its unique resources, whenever possible, to support educational excellence, since education is a key element in the Agency’s overall mission. The space agency participates in educational outreach programs through centers around the country. More information on educational opportunities with the Marshall Center can be found at: