Saturday, May 14, 2011

Trip To KSC for NASA Student Symposium

Last Saturday I was heading back home after an amazing trip with two students who participated in the NASA Explorer School's Student Symposium. One of the students suggested I take pictures of the new TI-Nspire CX CAS as it 'visits' various sites on the trip. The image to the left is the Nspire with the Space Shuttle Endeavor just before its last launch. It is scheduled to take off Monday morning. Especially now that the AP Calculus exam is past, teachers may enjoy incorporating shuttle launch data with the technology they have in their classroom (TI-84 or Nspire) by doing a NASA Math & Science @ Work activity. There is also an algebra 1 activity about for the Space Shuttle Ascent.

Part of the inspiration for doing the research that these two freshmen pursued was the NASA Exploring Space through Math Weightless Wonder activity. They used the TI-Nspire and CBR2 motion detector to consider the parabola formed by a ball rolling on a ramp. I posted their PowerPoint presentation on our school's website.

Besides seeing the Endeavor, some highlights from the trip were hearing from the director of the Kennedy Space Center and former astronaut Robert Cabana, talking to astronaut and physicist Samuel Durrance, and hearing from a panel of NASA scientists and employees to encourage the students to pursue the challenging courses. The students got some great advice.

Update: I just got word about a Google Earth plug-in that lets you watch the space shuttle trajectory in real-time. It is similar to the what can be done with the calculus activity that was mentioned above, except this is LIVE. I think this will be particularly interesting when it takes off and lands. Endeavor is scheduled to land at 2:30 a.m. (Eastern time zone) June 1st, and the last shuttle should launch in July.
It requires the desktop version of Google Earth (free download here):

Once you have Google Earth on your machine, just download the .kmz plugin below to your desktop and click it to start. It’s still in beta-mode so those involved in the development of it at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston would love to have feedback from teachers and students on what they think. Let me know and I'll pass on the feedback.

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