[iLead] – Students at four iLEAD Schools locations are getting a visit from a NASA engineer next week as they prepare to create science experiments that will compete for a spot aboard the International Space Station.
Dr. Jacob Cohen, chief engineer of the NASA Ames Research Center in Santa Clara County, will visit iLEAD Lancaster and SCVi, the founding campus of iLEAD Schools, on Thursday, Feb. 18. The next day, he will visit iLEAD’s studio locations in Simi Valley and Encino.
“This is not your basic science project,” said Kathleen Fredette, director of STEAM Initiatives for iLEAD Schools. “One of our student experiments will be chosen to fly with SpaceX up to the International Space Station, where an astronaut will perform the experiment.”
To help prepare the students for their participation in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP.ncesse.org), Cohen will visit the four campuses and make a special presentation to the learners regarding the frontier of space exploration, including NASA’s plans for a manned mission to Mars.
Many of the students will subsequently create experiments that will be submitted to the SSEP program as candidates to be brought aboard the ISS to be performed in space. The SSEP research opportunity is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. It’s enabled through the NCESSE’s agreement with NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.
Parents, community members and the media will be welcome to attend Cohen’s Feb. 18-19 presentations, and additional guest speakers will be invited to visit the iLEAD centers during the nine-week project.
“We teach kids about real scientific experimentation,” Fredette said. “They learn about microgravity, which is experienced on the International Space Station. They learn about the constraints of the mini-laboratory environment.”
The iLEAD learners will create proposals for experiments, and a local board of scientists will review the top choices from each of the four participating iLEAD schools and learning studios. Three experiment proposals will be chosen to be submitted to the SSEP Step 2 Review Board, which will choose one of those to be carried aboard a SpaceX rocket to the space station.
The experiment will then be performed both on the ground and aboard the International Station Space, to demonstrate the difference in outcomes. “So, it is testing the variable of microgravity versus gravity,” Fredette said.
Students in grades 5 through 12 will participate in the experiment proposals, while those in all grades will compete to create a drawing of a “mission patch” representing the science mission. Paper editions of the winning K-4 and 5-12 patches will go into space along with the winning experiment, and will be stamped to certify they have been aboard the ISS, then returned to Earth.
Fredette added that the older learners are being encouraged to explore the idea of microgravity and scientific experimentation with younger ones and to also develop multi-age design teams. “We’re really helping to immerse our entire community in this,” she said. Adding with a smile,”It’s our iLEAD Space Program.”
NOTE: Dr. Jacob Cohen’s visits to the four iLEAD school and Learning Studios are scheduled as follows:
9:30-10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at iLEAD Lancaster
1:30-2:40 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at SCVi
8:45-9:45 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19, at iLEAD Simi Valley
11 a.m.-noon Friday, Feb. 19, at iLEAD Encino
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (http://ssep.ncesse.org) is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; http://ncesse.org) in partnership with Nanoracks, LLC. This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.
iLEAD Schools offer project-based curriculum and student-led assessment with global and culturally diverse influences. The tuition-free charter learning centers emphasize an inquiry-based, learner-centered approach to education. Their primary goal is to help learners lead a successful and fulfilled life while contributing to the world around them. More information about iLEAD Schools is available at www.ileadschools.org.
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