NASA has recognized the satellite work of Robertsville Middle School on the home page of its website. The project is part of an effort by NASA to encourage learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.
The partnership that was recognized involves Robertsville Middle School and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and work on a small one-unit cube satellite, or 1U CubeSat.
Patrick Hull, technical assistant for the Structural and Mechanical Design Branch of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall, helped with this collaboration, which is in the community where he grew up. He partnered with Robertsville Middle School STEM teacher Todd Livesay. They created a project that had students design and 3-D print a small one-unit cube satellite, or 1U CubeSat.
Once completed, the students presented their project at Marshall in front of Hull and a panel of fellow engineers.
For the 2017 class mission, students chose a cause that is near to their hearts, NASA said. In 2016, wildfires ravaged communities in Gatlinburg, in the mountains about 1.5 hours southeast of Oak Ridge, taking the lives of 14 residents and leaving more than 2,500 homes and businesses damaged or destroyed. To help Gatlinburg and other communities affected by the wildfires, the Robertsville students set out to develop a CubeSat capable of deploying a camera and radio in space to observe and communicate the regrowth pattern of vegetation after a widespread fire. This information can be used to help communities regrow after destruction, NASA said.
The students submitted their completed project in proposal form to NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative to compete for a spot to fly on a future launch. Through that initiative, NASA provides universities, high schools, and nonprofit organizations access to a low-cost pathway to conduct research in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education, or operations.
NASA said it is planning to make their next round of CubeSat selections in February. Selected experiments will be considered as potential payloads on agency launches or for deployment from the International Space Station beginning in 2018 through 2021.
“We sought to invest in our community and influence middle school students by exposing them to exciting STEM careers at NASA,” Hull said. “To have had an opportunity in junior high to work with a group of engineers from NASA would have been very motivating to me.”
At many schools, this type of unique experience in STEM fields was only available in an extracurricular environment, NASA said.
“The mentors from NASA encouraged our students to talk about their project in a conversational manner rather than memorizing for a presentation,” said Holly Cross, career and technical education supervisor for the Oak Ridge Schools. “The value of skills learned by our students in this program spans more than just STEM disciplines…Our English teachers have commented on how their presentation skills have developed and matured as a result of their interaction with the NASA engineers.”
NASA said it is on a mission to inspire young minds to become the next generation of critical thinkers, and it is engaging students in space exploration, encouraging learning in STEM in a way that “fosters hands-on learning and discovery.”
“As more states incorporate STEM-focused education into their standards, we assist teachers by developing curriculum support materials that help them meet the standards while making learning fun for their students,” said Susan Currie, education specialist at Marshall.
In Oak Ridge, Marshall staff assisted in curriculum development that incorporated unique NASA resources, and then trained teachers to use the resources for a new elective engineering course called NASA Project-Based Learning. Marshall engineers also serve as mentors to students in the course, NASA said.
NASA centers across the nation work with schools by developing and providing engineering and science curriculum resources and training at no cost to teachers through the Educator Professional Development Collaborative. To find a local collaborative, see https://www.txstate-epdc.net/nasa-centers/.
The collaborative is managed by Texas State University as part of the NASA’s education offerings. A free service for K-12 educators nationwide, it connects educators with the classroom tools and resources they need to foster students’ passion for careers in STEM and produce the next generation of scientists and engineers.
This information is from a NASA press release by Shannon Ridinger at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, posted on the NASA website home page on January 10, 2018.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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