Northwest High School science resource teacher Kathy Bender and two of the students in her satellite imagery class will travel to Hawaii in May to help produce a series of live webcasts and to film footage for videos for NASA.
The pilot class, being taught this year for the first time at Northwest, is an outgrowth of a NASA Earth Observing System outreach program, "You Be the Scientist." Northwest became involved in the program in 1998 and soon became identified as the lead school among the six schools in the Beta test group. This year, 20 schools throughout the nation are participating in the program.
Since the NASA program began, schools periodically have been invited to participate in live webcasts with the NASA team as they travel to various parts of the globe. Last April, Northwest students received streaming video from the North Pole webcast via satellite while communicating live by keyboard with scientists at the Pole.
This May, the NASA team is going to Hawaii to test the ability of a lidar instrument (essentially a green laser) to calibrate the instrumentation of a polar-orbiting satellite as it passes over the Mauna Kea Observatory on the island of Hawaii. Bender, accompanied by junior Daniel Blake and senior Erin Mauer, will serve as educational director for the trip. She will coordinate the lesson development, scripting and efforts of three other teachers in the program, one from Pennsylvania and two from Maryland parochial schools.
The teachers, students and NASA personnel will be producing a series of three live webcasts from the Mauna Kea Observatory, Volcano National Park and surrounding rainforest areas. Northwest will be responsible for the geology and geography information. The students will record global positioning system, weather and ozone data and set up geographical information system maps of their measurements. They also will be contacting Bob Ryan of NBC-4 because they intend to use the AWS/4-WINDS network of weather stations to compare ground readings to the satellite data used at Northwest.
The group also will film footage to develop into instructional videos through the NASA-Goddard Education Office. NASA intends to use the videos for future webcasts and classroom support.
The possibility of an ongoing program between NASA and schools in the program is being discussed, Bender said, and the Hawaii trip may serve as a prototype for future projects with NASA.