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June 14, 2013

Students, teachers become rocket scientists at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

More than 120 students and educators will delve into the world of rocket science June 15-21 during Rocket Week at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Activities during the week will include a RockOn! workshop for 50 university and community college-level participants, and the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students (WRATS) for a high school audience. All attendees will participate in a sounding rocket launch scheduled between 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., EDT, June 20.

“Rocket Week brings together students and teachers from across the country to experience first-hand the exciting world of rocketry,” said Joyce Winterton, senior advisor for education and leadership development at Wallops. “For students, it provides them valuable experience to blend with academics for their future STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. The educators gain valuable experience to expand their curriculum in the classroom and mentor students for STEM majors and careers.”

RockOn! Introduces participants to building small experiments that can be launched on suborbital sounding rockets. Now in its sixth year, the workshop is conducted in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia.

“Working with NASA, we have developed a step approach to expand the skills needed for students to enter STEM careers,” said Chris Koehler, director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. “RockOn! is the first step, followed by RockSat-C and then RockSat-X. Each step is technically more challenging than the previous one, allowing the students to expand the skills needed to support the aerospace industry.”

The RockOn! participants will build standardized experiments to be launched on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket. The 35-foot-tall rocket is expected to fly to an altitude of about 75 miles. After launch and payload recovery, the participants will conduct preliminary data analysis and discuss their results.

Nine custom-built Rocksat-C experiments, developed at universities that previously participated in a RockOn! Workshop, also will fly inside a payload canister on the rocket. About 50 students who designed and built the experiments will be attend Rocket Week.

Also attending will be university participants in RockSat-X. They are previous Rocksat-C participants who will fly six custom-built experiments aboard a sounding rocket from Wallops in August.

In the WRATS program, 20 high school teachers from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and the District of Columbia will learn about the dynamics of rocketry and the science gained from suborbital sounding rockets to reinforce STEM concepts they teach in their classrooms. They also will attend the planned sounding rocket launch.

These programs continue NASA’s investment in the nation’s education programs by supporting the goal of attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines critical to the future of space exploration.

 

For more information about the WRATS programs, visit http://education.wff.nasa.gov.

 

The RockOn! and WRATS workshops are supported by NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program. RockOn! also is supported by NASA’s Office of Education and NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia.

 




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