NES Experience Begins…Glenn Research here we come!
Amazing that the summer started and within a week of ending school. I was already going on a professional development adventure. This year I was given the opportunity to go to Glenn Research center in Cleveland Ohio. And it didn’t disappoint me. And the most exciting part was meeting up with other teachers I had been with on other NASA adventures. I call them adventures because you never know what is going to happen.
Our first day included an introduction by our Mentor or Leader Marge. 19 Teachers from around the country ranging in grade level from elementary school to high school were part of this PD experience. The next morning we were given an introduction by Rob. Okay I forgot to his last name, my bad. He is a representative for the educational section of NASA. He talked about how the career growth in STEM was between 18 – 20 %. Estimating that for every non-STEM job there were at least 5-6 people waiting to be hired, while every STEM job there were maybe 2 people? (Not sure if his stats are correct, but they seem feasible to me). He briefly discussed the future of NASA education. It looks like there is going to be consolidation of agencies and their educational departments. Everything is going to be put under one umbrella. They are also interested in doing more challenges, real life designs, like the exploration design challenge.
After our talks we our day began with meeting our safety people. I was partnered with another teacher I had meet 3 years ago at GARVT. They were a great group. We were assigned this experience the night before. They couldn’t do enough for us. One person, Mike the engineer, (again forgot the last name, ugh) was awesome. An encyclopedia. His knowledge of all the research going on the base was amazing. As they took us around to different facilities he explained all the research going on and the safety requirements behind the research. Glenn is one of the largest testing facilities in the world. There are hundreds of research testing taking place every day.
First stop was vacuum testing area. Not only could testing be done with heat it also used liquid nitrogen to cool the chamber down to 77 degrees Kelvin. Amazing. Great presentation for Thermodynamics. The next stop was the Zero G Drop tower. As tall as the Washington Monument, this test facility was mainly underground. A microgravity state of 5.18 sec can be achieved. We were fortunate enough to see a drop. I’ve included the movie. The object being tested reaches 35 G’s by the time it reaches the catching area.
Before heading to other parts of the facilities we visited the testing area that was being used for simulating conditions on Venus. You ask why? because they want to send something to Venus and they are trying to simulate the conditions. Interesting tidbit Mike told us, the ring gasket on the system is not holding up to the extreme conditions, so researchers are creating one that will. Spinoff in the making!
The slope was the last research facility we visited for the day. In this area they were testing tires for rovers and other vehicles. The scarab was their test vehicle and we got a chance to drive it. Robots all over again. Definitely giving me ideas about creating our own slope in the classroom and using it as a PBL with our EV3 Mindstorms. This was our last visit for the day. Yep again my brain was exploding and I was trying to keep everything in perspective. Throughout the day our mentors stressed how safety played a role in all the facilities and the testing going on. The next day would be the Health issues and safety associated with the center. Day 2 coming soon and look for ISTE updates.