Students Will Fly Onboard "Weightless Wonder" To Conduct
NASA announced this week the space agency selected South
Plantation High School of Plantation, FL to fly a student-designed
experiment aboard the agency's reduced-gravity aircraft, the
South Plantation will join 13 other NASA Explorer School teams
selected for this unique learning experience to test science and
math concepts in a weightless laboratory aboard the Weightless
Wonder this month. The modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9 jetliner
will fly a series of parabolic maneuvers -- steep climbs followed
by sharp descents.
Each climb will produce about 30 seconds of hyper gravity,
ranging from 1.8 to 2 Gs. When the DC-9 "noses over," each freefall
will produce 18 to 25 seconds of weightlessness. The teams will fly
about 32 parabolas.
The school's immediate mission is to finalize the concept of its
experiment and work with a NASA mentor to get the experiment
flight-ready. The team decided which educators will execute and
accompany the experiment aboard the aircraft. They traveled to
NASA's aircraft facility at Ellington Field and the Johnson Space
Center in Houston.
"The goal of the NASA Explorer School Program is to equip the
next generation of explorers. These flights are an illustration of
how NASA can connect space, math and science to classrooms on
Earth," said Rob Lasalvia, program manager.
South Plantation was selected as a NASA Explorer School in 2005,
giving the school an opportunity to propose a reduced-gravity
experiment. The program enables schools and their communities to
work with NASA in a three-year partnership to develop the nation's
future science, technology, engineering and mathematics work force.
There are now 200 teams, representing all 50 states, the District
of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
With this program, NASA continues the agency's tradition of
investing in the nation's education programs. It is directly tied
to the agency's major education goal of attracting and retaining
students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or
STEM, disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds,
imaginations, and career ambitions of America's young people, NASA
is focused on engaging and retaining students in STEM education
programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines
critical to NASA's future engineering, scientific and technical