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Students meet the challenge of NASA hands-on learning initiative, cap year with rocket launch

Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
> Huntsville, Ala. 35812
> For release: May 23, 2002
> RELEASE: 02-131
> Students meet the challenge of NASA hands-on learning initiative, cap
> with rocket launch
> Editor's Note:  Students are not only launching rockets, they are
> launching careers in science and engineering -- thanks to a NASA
> called the Student Launch Initiative.
> If engineering is the art of applying science and math to experience,
> judgment and common sense, then students on rocket teams at three
> Huntsville, Ala., area high schools and those from a two-university
> can definitely call themselves engineers.
> During the past year, the student teams have designed, built and
> rockets - and developed science payloads - as part of NASA's Student
> Launch Initiative, sponsored by the agency's Marshall Space Flight
> in Huntsville. They've also developed Web sites, learned how to budget
> including how to present financial proposals to NASA engineers and
> community leaders - and gained problem-solving and leadership skills.
> "Finals" for the student teams came this spring when they headed to the
> launch pad to demonstrate to NASA engineers and scientists that they
> successfully build vehicles capable of being launched, recovered and
> reused.
> "The Student Launch Initiative transcends classroom learning," says
> Ciliax, a teacher and rocket team sponsor at Johnson High School. "It
> allows students to apply creativity to hands-on technology. You don't
> that in a regular class." 
> Inspired by a high school rocketry program in Fredericksburg, Texas,
> Marshall Center's Student Launch Initiative is an educational activity
> that aims to motivate students to pursue careers in science, math and
> engineering - while giving them practical, hands-on aerospace
> "Our Student Launch Initiative proves that when students are given a
> chance to excel, they'll step up to the challenge - a trait we need in
> tomorrow's leaders," said Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson.
> The high school program kicked off last spring when students from
> High School, the Randolph School and Sparkman High School accepted
> challenge by submitting proposals to team with Marshall engineers to
> reusable rockets and launch science payloads.  The educational program
> marked a key milestone in October 2001, when the teams first launched
> their rockets and payloads at a U.S. Army test range on Redstone
> This spring the Student Launch Initiative culminated with a series of
> launches, again at an actual test range. 
> On April 27, students from the three participating high schools went to
> the launch pad again -- demonstrating the rockets' reusability and
> a successful conclusion to their first year effort.
> On May 22, students from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)
> neighboring Alabama A&M launched their rocket and cheered as it soared
> a two-mile altitude, approximately a mile or more higher than the high
> school division rockets.
> "When NASA proposed this project, I thought, 'How can I teach this? I
> don't know anything about rockets,'" says Ciliax. "But the best part
was I
> didn't't have to know anything. We learned - together."
> Alabama A& M junior Jimmy Pleasant of Birmingham said the best part of
> Student Launch Initiative has been working with NASA engineers on a
> project that could benefit NASA.  Pleasant worked on the computer that
> recorded flight data from the rocket's science payload -- an experiment
> that will measure the amount of hydrogen produced during electroplating
> with nickel in a brief period of microgravity that will occur during
> flight. NASA's Space Shuttle uses nickel-plating on its Main Engines.
> "I've had the opportunity to get hands-on experience that I know will
> me when I begin my career in computer science," noted Pleasant.  "It's
> been challenging and exciting."
> Johnson High team co-sponsor Melonie Hanson credits the Marshall
> rocket initiative program with helping her students choose careers.
> of our students have received four-year scholarships to Alabama
> universities -- primarily because of their work on this project. And,
> three plan to major in engineering."
> "I thank NASA and the Marshall Center for that opportunity," says
> "This program makes a real difference.  Every student at our school who
> participated in the Student Launch Initiative benefited. In fact, many
> now planning a future in science or the space industry." 
> NASA uses its unique resources to support educational excellence, since
> education is a key element in NASA's overall mission.  The space agency
> participates in education outreach programs through its field centers
> around the country.
> More information on educational opportunities with the Marshall Center
> be found at:
> http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/education
> Information about NASA's education programs can be found at: 
> http://www/education.nasa.gov
> --end--
> Contact
> Jerry Berg
> Media Relations Department
> (256) 544-0034
> Jerry.Berg@msfc.nasa.gov
> _______
> The Web
> News Release
> http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/releases/2002/02-131.html
> Photos
> http://www1.msfc. nasa.gov/ NEWSROOM/ news/photos/
> Marshall Space Flight Center
> Media Relations Department
> (256) 544-0034
> (256) 544-5852 (fax)
> www.msfc.nasa.gov/news

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