---DuPont and Its Pioneer-Hi Bred Business and Delaware Education Community Sponsor Trip---
Wilmington, DE. – Two teams of Delaware high school teachers that will soon defy gravity in the name of science were today given a fitting, flying send off. The teachers, selected by NASA and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), to fly experiments in microgravity, were sent on their way from the Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation’s (DASEF) Smyrna, Del., headquarters by Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell, Associate Secretary of Education Dr. Amelia Hodges, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee and DuPont Vice President and Chief Engineer Jocelyn E. Scott.
The 10-day trip to Houston, Tex., for the Delaware teachers is being sponsored by DuPont, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, the DuPont Office of Education, in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware Association of Agriscience Educators.
The flight is an opportunity to allow high school teachers and students to propose, design, fabricate and evaluate two experiments the teachers will fly in a reduced gravity environment. The overall experience includes scientific research, hands-on design and test operations aboard a modified Boeing 727 jetliner. Zero-Gravity Corp. of Las Vegas will conduct the flights the week of July 29 to Aug. 7 in cooperation with the Reduced Gravity Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"What a wonderful opportunity for our Delaware teachers to embrace science, technology, engineering and math in an experience they can enthusiastically bring back to their classrooms," said Governor Markell. "We want to stimulate student interest in math and science careers. I am sure students will want to hear all about this NASA trip. When teachers become students themselves, they discover new ways to bring subjects to life."
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Agriculture Science are a major focus for DuPont and Pioneer. "This is an innovative NASA project for students and educators to work on actual flight projects that use the unique environment of space while applying their academic knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said Scott.
Delaware’s two crews include "Team STEM" from Dover High School and "Team Ag" of Delaware agriscience teachers from various schools throughout the state. The agriscience teachers and their high schools include Kellie Michaud, Smyrna; Catherine DiBenedetto, Caesar Rodney; Sarah Bell, Smyrna; and Scott Haldeman, Milford. Each is a graduate of the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy, a professional development program sponsored annually by DuPont as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
"I am so proud of our eight public high school teachers who have been selected to conduct experiments in micro-gravity aboard a specially-designed aircraft," said Associate Secretary Hodges. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for our teachers and truly a ‘teachable moment’ for our students when the new school year begins."
The Delaware agriscience teachers propose, "Capturing Carbon from Fossil Fuels & Biofuels: Does Gravity Matter?" The experiment will capture carbon from two types of fuel sources — a fossil fuel (kerosene) and a biofuel (ethanol), comparing the amount of carbon captured after burning each of these fuels and determine if gravity has an impact on the amount.
"This is an important concept to investigate due to the issue of global climate change, global warming and increased carbon emissions being produced by humans," said Kellie Michaud, Team Ag leader and agriscience teacher.
Team STEM teachers from Dover High School include Sharon Densler, Kristin Lupo, Andrew Gorlich, and Jacob Abrams.
The Dover team’s experiment seeks to answer the sports and physics related question,"Will it be easier to make a field goal in a microgravity environment?" said Sharon Densler, Team STEM leader and Science Specialist for Capital School District. She explained that a catapult device will be used to shoot a marble sphere at a target from several different distances and accurate data will be collected and recorded. The data will be collected for 25-second intervals in microgravity during the in-flight portion of the experiment. The data from the classroom and flight will be analyzed to look for differences in accuracy of hitting the target as a result of differences in gravity.
"Team members will experience 30 parabolas, or up-and-down drops, recreating levels of microgravity simulating weightlessness in space," said Cathy DiBenedetto, Team Ag, mission specialist. "The Boeing 727 climbs and drops at approximately 45 degrees both up and down. It takes the first three parabolas just to get used to the unusual effect, then we have 22-second increments during each following parabola in which to conduct the experiments."
"DASEF is honored to be the send off point for these teams of teachers," said Stephanie Wright, executive director of Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation. "At DASEF we strive for an appreciation of the earth and its place in the universe, and these experiments in reduced gravity will certainly help further that appreciation."
In addition to Delaware, high school teachers from Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Washington were selected to fly an experiment in microgravity. Teachers and students will share their experiences and research in a series of interactive web seminars after the flight week. The seminars are held by NSTA and NASA's Teaching From Space office and Reduced Gravity Flight Opportunities Program. Teaching From Space manages NASA's Education Flight Projects, a national program for educators and students in kindergarten through 12th grade that facilitates and promotes learning opportunities using unique NASA content, facilities and flight platforms.
For more information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Week Program, visit: http://microgravityuniversity.jsc.nasa.gov
For more information about Teaching From Space, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education/tfs
For more information about the National Science Teachers Association, visit: http://www.nsta.org
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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