RET fellow, Paul Holt's communication about his recent experience with NASA Programs
Recently, our RET fellow Paul Holt participated in a program through NASA's Reduced Gravity Office and the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
He sent me an email highlighting what he did:
The program that I participated in was through NASA's Reduced Gravity Office and the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. I worked with three other teachers from Philadelphia to design and build an experiment to bring on NASA's Zero Gravity plane. The plane is also known as the "Vomit Comet," but NASA prefers that you call it the "Weightless Wonder."
We spent two days getting our experiments put together, one day working on incorporating our experience into our classroom for next year, and then there were two flight days.
There were a lot of great components of the program and a lot of really unique experiences that I gained throughout my week in Houston. Here are just a couple:
It was great to work with teachers from across the country, all of whom were genuinely excited to be there, and to share their experience with their students.
It was also a great learning experience for me, because we went through a lot of difficulties in getting our experiment approved by NASA. So I was learning a lot about what it's like to be an engineer, having to constantly think on the fly and modify your design.
The flight itself was unbelievable. It lasted just under an hour and we did 30 parabolas. At the peak of each parabola, we were in zero-gravity for about 20 seconds. The first time I felt myself lift off the floor and feel weightless was a completely unique experience that can not really be described until you feel it. Since my body had never experienced that feeling before, the first couple times in zero-g I instinctively panicked and my legs started flailing. By the 10th parabola I had gotten comfortable and gained much more self control. It was so cool to just push lightly against a wall of the plane and float directly across the cabin, holding onto nothing, completely suspended.
The whole experience should create numerous teaching moments for many years to come. Just to show my students the pictures of myself floating and open their eyes about what gravity means, will be truly powerful.
Here are a couple of links you may want to share in your blog:
Application for NASA's Teaching From Space Program:http://microgravityuniversity.jsc.nasa.gov/tfs/
Photos from the Flights: http://zerog.jsc.nasa.gov/studentmain.html
- Paul Holt