Columbus Goes to Mars: Coca-Cola Space Science Center and Partners to Host NASA Community Day

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Special guests from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center are paying a visit to the Chattahoochee Valley on Saturday, May 6 to assist in Columbus’ greatest and most daring voyage yet.

“Columbus Goes to Mars” is a free community-wide, space-themed learning event hosted by Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC) in partnership with the Columbus Museum and the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center.

“The NASA/KSC team is extremely excited to bring a piece of the inspirational work of exploration to Columbus, Georgia,” said Joshua Santora, program specialist at the NASA/KSC PX-E Education Office. “We are grateful to our collaborators and hosts and can’t wait to share America’s space programs with the people of Muscogee County.”


Friday, May 5: “Hidden Figures” at the National Infantry Museum
Panel discussion from 6-7 p.m. | Movie at 7:30 p.m.

On the evening of Friday, May 5, the National Infantry Museum will host a free, one-time-only screening of “Hidden Figures,” the Academy Award-nominated film based on the true story of a team of African-American female mathematicians who served a vital role at NASA during the early years of the US space program.

Before the film, at 6 p.m., a panel of experts will discuss their experiences working with the space program and their inspirations for pursuing a career in aeronautics. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission to both the panel discussion and the film is free. Concessions will be available for purchase during the event.


Saturday, May 6: “Columbus Goes to Mars,” 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Coca-Cola Space Science Center | The Columbus Museum | National Infantry Museum
Note: Activities at The Columbus Museum will conclude at 3 p.m.

Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, CCSSC, the Columbus Museum, and the National Infantry Museum will host family-friendly activities at all three locations, including:

— Expert presentations by engineers and educators from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
— Vesta mosaic art
— NASA’s PINK team robot
— “Humans in space” demonstrations
— Air rocket launches (supervised by the same people who launch real rockets into space)
— STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) presentations by local educators
— Professional teacher development workshops with NASA educators

“Columbus Goes to Mars” marks the first time NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has delivered their community day program outside of their home town of Titusville, Fla.

“We are honored that NASA’s Kennedy Space Center thought of Columbus first when deciding to take their annual community day outside of Titusville,” said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center. “I’m excited about the multiple speakers talking about careers in STEM-related fields, science demonstrations, and fun educational activities this event will bring to Columbus.”

Attendees are encouraged to visit all three locations for the full NASA experience. As an extra incentive, a limited-edition commemorative coin will be given to all participants who turn in a completed “passport” containing all three stamps from each location (while supplies last).


Please visit www.ccssc.org/ColumbusGoesToMars.html for a detailed schedule of events and activities. This page will be updated regularly with additional information. Please note that while all activities are free, some will require tickets for entry. Please e-mail events@ccssc.org with questions.

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New Exhibit Now Open at Coca-Cola Space Science Center

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC) opened a new exhibit experience Saturday, March 25 that promises visitors a taste of space.

“A Space Shuttle Odyssey” is an interactive space flight adventure. From the 27-seat Odyssey theatre, participants launch into space in seats that literally shake. During the 15-minute journey, ten high-definition displays from the front and above depict the Earth from orbit, the stars, flight data and more.

“A Space Shuttle Odyssey” was made possible by a $250,000 gift from WestRock.

“We are so grateful to have a partner like WestRock,” said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center. “Together, we are providing inspiration to the next generation of science explorers, as well as creating a richer history and cultural experience for the region and visitors.”

CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center officially opened Odyssey to the public in true CCSSC fashion, with a celebration that included:

— “A Space Shuttle Odyssey” shows every 20 minutes;
— RED the Robot in action;
— Super Science demonstrations;
— Air Rocket construction and launches;
— Omnisphere Theatre shows;
— Solar observing; and
— Door prizes.

 

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CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center Partners with NASA on $1.25 Million Grant

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center has entered into a new partnership with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to develop a program that will teach high schoolers how to design and manufacture vehicles for Mars.

The program, IMEET (Innovation Mars Exploration Education and Technology), is funded by a $1.25 million NASA Museum Alliance Grant. The grant is yet another example of CSU’s commitment to furthering STEM education efforts.

For the next three summers, high school students from Muscogee County and across the nation will spend two weeks as young aerospace engineers in Columbus at the Space Science Center crafting Mars rovers and helicopters using 3-D printing technologies.

mars-rovers

These vehicles, not unlike those imagined in the book/film “The Martian,” are needed to research the surface of Mars and its harsh environment. It’s all part of an anticipated landing on Mars, something Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, predicted would occur by 2025.

“It may seem like science fiction, but these are the steps that are being taken – by NASA, by Musk, by our friends from Georgia Tech and by this center – to improve our capabilities for space exploration,” said Shawn Cruzen, CSU astronomy professor and director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. “This grant will help prepare our students for a world we’ve only just imagined.”

CSU is one of four sites selected to implement the grant’s curriculum. The other sites are: South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, Museum of Aviation Education Center and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Tech will be responsible for the development of the program’s curriculum and workshop instructions. The entire IMEET project will be led by the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.

Through the grant program, CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center also will host workshops for area teachers to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in the context of space exploration.

“As one of the only science education centers in the nation based solely on space exploration, we are uniquely positioned to disseminate knowledge amongst the STEM community and increase youth engagement in the space sciences,” Cruzen said.

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CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC) hosted a free, family-friendly event Saturday, July 16 with special guest Carl McNair, brother of Challenger Astronaut Ron McNair, to celebrate its 20th year as the region’s top destination for space science education.

Ron McNair was one of seven crew members who died when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart off the coast of Cape Canaveral in 1986. Carl McNair spoke about his brother’s legacy in the space science center’s Omnisphere Theatre. One of those legacies is the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, which led to the establishment of 40 Challenger Learning Centers across the country, one of which is at CCSSC.

Ron McNair

Other activities included:

— Tours of the Challenger Learning Center, Space Shuttle artifacts and the WestRock Observatory, home to the Planewave 24-inch telescope
— Shows in the Omnisphere Theater
— Sneak preview of the Space Shuttle Odyssey Theater
— Air rocket construction and flights
— Solar telescopes
— Robots
— UV beads
— 3-D printing
— Science shows
— Information about the quarter-scale Space Shuttle prototype
— T-shirt and souvenir giveaways

NASA recently gifted a one-of-a-kind artifact from the Space Shuttle Program: a quarter-scale engineering prototype of the Space Shuttle that served a vital function in the development of America’s space program. The model was used to test the integrity of the shuttle before the full-scale spacecraft was produced. CCSSC is raising money to construct a new home for the shuttle prototype at the center. To learn more or to make a donation, call 706-649-1477.

About CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center
The Coca-Cola Space Science Center is an educational outreach center of Columbus State University. More than 40,000 guests and 25,000 students visit the center annually to watch space-themed shows in the Omnisphere Theater, test mini Mars rovers, run flight simulations or whisper in the secret sound tube (a tube that allows visitors to talk to each other from 50 feet away).

On display in the CCSSC gallery is a Space Shuttle Main Engine Nozzle that flew into space nine times, a console from the Kennedy Space Center’s Firing Room 3 and the leading edge of the Space Shuttle’s wing.

CCSSC 20th Anniversary

CSU’s CCSSC operates one of only 40 Challenger Learning Centers in the country. The Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded by the families of the Challenger crew members to continue the crew’s educational mission. Using simulated learning and role-playing strategies, the center teaches teamwork, communication, problem solving and critical thinking skills to young students.

The CCSSC is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for military service members and seniors, $4 for children and $3 for CSU students with ID.

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Tankersley Named CSU’s Staff Member of the Year

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Lance Tankersley, Omnisphere Theater director at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, was named the 2016 President’s Staff Excellence Award winner during the university’s campus-wide employee recognition ceremony April 26.

The President’s Staff Excellence Award recognizes the staff employee who demonstrates excellent job performance, work ethic and a commitment to CSU’s mission and values. Tankersley received a commemorative award, letter of recognition from the president and a $1,000 cash prize.

His supervisor, Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and a professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, surprised Tankersley with a video explaining why he is so valuable.

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Space Shuttle Prototype Closer to Finding New Home in Georgia

Shuttle 01

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A quarter-scale prototype of a NASA Space Shuttle is headed for permanent display at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

NASA recently gave Columbus State University the one-of-a-kind artifact from the Space Shuttle Program: a quarter-scale engineering prototype of the Space Shuttle that served a vital function in the development of America’s space program.

“As an artifact, it is an irreplaceable part of our nation’s heritage,” said Shawn Cruzen, Columbus State University astronomy professor and executive director of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center. “It will provide us with a real-life teaching tool to aid in our mission to excite kids and our college students about science technology, engineering and mathematics.”

The largest sub-scale prototype of the shuttle ever constructed, this piece is big enough to simulate all of the shuttle’s primary structural elements and joints. The system features a 30-foot orbiter with a 19.5-foot wingspan, a 38-foot-long external tank with a 7-foot diameter and two 37-foot-long solid rocket boosters. When stacked vertically, the prototype stands more than 48-feet tall. The prototype was tested in a variety of angles and configurations, including variable loading of the external tanks, allowing replication of the most critical stages of the shuttle’s flight to space.

The artifact has been kept outside of Columbus for a few months and was recently trucked down the interstate to the Columbus airport for storage as the Space Science Center develops plans and raises funds for new exhibit space that will house the prototype at the center in downtown Columbus.

Shuttle 02 Shuttle 03

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Columbus State University’s Space Science Center To Offer Online Tour of the Cosmos

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Space fanatics from around the world will tour the night sky with astronomy experts during a webcast presented by Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

“In order to interact with a real telescope, most people have to travel long distances in the dark,” said Shawn Cruzen, director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. “Our webcast technology allows viewers to observe live celestial images without ever having to leave home.”

CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center will host the webcast from the WestRock Observatory Friday, Dec. 4 from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The observatory, located inside the science center, houses a 24-inch PlaneWave CDK telescope that already has captured images of supernovas, nebulas, solar eruptions and even galaxies from more than 30 million light years away.

CAPTION: M42, the Orion Nebula, imagined from the WestRock Observatory

CAPTION: M42, the Orion Nebula, imagined from the WestRock Observatory

Friday’s webcast will offer a tour of celestial objects in the constellation Orion, a question and answer session, and a drawing for the “Golden Ticket.” Golden Ticket winners will receive a personal three-hour session in the WestRock Observatory. Images captured by the winner will be processed and delivered to the recipient.

To view the webcast, visit http://observatory.ccssc.org/webcast. To submit webcast questions, email webcast@ccssc.org.

“The Internet is dense with information about space, from general space news to modern rocket capabilities and far away galaxies,” Cruzen said. “The amount of knowledge online is actually overwhelming. This webcast’s interactive format gives us a chance to answer specific questions and keep potential students engaged in the space sciences without, well, getting lost in space.”

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University Forges Rare Partnership to Ignite Interest in STEM

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University and the Muscogee County School District are serious about getting students interested in STEM and proving it in a big way — with a district-wide contract that will give every elementary student in every school a chance to interact annually with the university’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

The center already hosts all district sixth-graders every year. Adding students from kindergarten through fifth grade will mean that more than 17,000 district children a year will learn from a staff that figuratively and literally screams, “I love science!”

National experts say serving that many school children with the single goal of igniting kids’ interest in math and science may become a national model in STEM education.

“This is a very impressive partnership you have formed with the local school district,” said Jonah Cohen, chair of the National Education Outreach Network. “In fact, it may be one of the most extensive science center-school partnerships for outreach in the country.”

Student on Controls

The Coca-Cola Space Science Center, a CSU academic enrichment center and space museum located on CSU’s downtown RiverPark campus, signed the contract with the Muscogee County School District as a cost-effective means of expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, an educational priority set by the Obama administration in 2010.

“The Muscogee County School District is thrilled to be partnering with CSU and the Coca-Cola Space Science Center to provide education in STEM that is critical to the success of our community and the country,” said David Lewis, superintendent of education for the Muscogee County School District. “The resources available at the science center are unlike any in the region, and we are confident that they will reignite a curiosity about science that students are losing at an early age.”

U.S. News & World Report says that by the eighth grade, almost 50 percent of students have lost interest in science.

“We hope to turn this trend around in our local school district by immersing students in the gateway sciences of astronomy and space exploration,” said Shawn Cruzen, director for CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center. “We believe that making a difference in these early years will lead to more students pursuing science in college, a larger and better-trained technological workforce, and a community with a better understanding and appreciation of science.”

The center already has been demonstrating its impact in the district for 18 years through its sixth-grade curriculum and teacher exchange program.

“This contract has given us the rare privilege to work with students for seven straight years,” Cruzen said. “We have a unique opportunity to build on experiences year after year, reinforcing lessons but never repeating them.”

Mission Control Center

With a program that engages students over multiple years, the center can reinforce learning connections that frequently disintegrate when students leave the classroom.

“Science learning for youth is often separate and disconnected,” said Kelly Riedinger, director of research and evaluation for David Heil & Associates, Inc., an Oregon firm that specializes in the development of science-based educational programs, products and services. “What students learn in school is rarely connected to everyday life. The collaboration between the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and local schools likely will result in long-term outcomes for participating students, including gains in science understanding, improved attitudes and beliefs toward STEM content, and increased interest in pursuing STEM careers.”

The field of science education is lacking longitudinal studies on outcomes for youth interested in STEM, she said. The center plans to employ experts from CSU’s College of Education and Health Professions to narrow this research gap and measure the effects of its new partnership.

“It is evident that this partnership is well-positioned to make an impact, both with students and in the science education research community,” Riedinger said.

“I am personally excited to see a community taking this step to ignite kids’ interest in math and science,” Cohen said. “I can assure you that this arrangement will be tracked by centers around the country, because you have a golden opportunity for long-term evaluation and assessment that few centers will ever have.”

In addition to addressing research needs, the center will work to modify lessons based on feedback from teachers and principals.

Mary Johnson, assistant director for CSU’s space science center, said her staff’s ability to adapt to diverse needs is a strength. Lessons will not only satisfy state standards but also will address areas identified by schools.

Rovers

Despite growth in its programs, the space science center continues to offer something different for every grade. Educators visit students in their own schools in kindergarten through the third grade. Students in fourth through sixth grades visit the center, where they find lessons customized just for them.

Growth for CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center is only limited by the space between its brick walls. Johnson said the center is hoping to raise money for a physical expansion of the building to display NASA artifacts and handle even more students with interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center to Host Smithsonian Curator

Earlier this year, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center was awarded a one-of-a-kind artifact from America’s Space Shuttle Program. The Quarter-Scale Space Shuttle Engineering Prototype was the largest high fidelity test article constructed in preparation for the first manned flight of the four-bodied space transport system. Valued at $9.3 million, Columbus, Georgia is now home to this remarkable piece of history.

Hailed by Robert Sherouse (iTransition Manager, Office of Infrastructure, NASA HQ) as one of the five “most extraordinary components of the Space Shuttle Program,” the Quarter-Scale Shuttle offers unique insight into the engineering challenges and testing processes involved in human space travel.

To talk more about future possibilities with this artifact, CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center is hosting Dr. Valerie Neal, curator of the Space History Division at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  Neal has extensive knowledge of the human spaceflight program and is one of a handful of experts versed in the role that the Coca-Cola Space Science Center’s newest artifact acquisition played in NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

Neal joined the Smithsonian as a curator in 1989 and is responsible for artifact collections from the Space Shuttle era and International Space Station, most prominently the orbiter, Discovery. She led the museum’s effort to prepare the shuttle test vehicle Enterprise for public display and to acquire Spacelab, SpaceShipOne, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit for the national collection.

Neal will be presenting at the center’s VIP reception Thursday evening when the center announces plans to house the Quarter-Scale Shuttle. Additionally, she will meet with Columbus State students and area young professionals Friday morning to share her career experiences and lead an open dialogue on the museum industry, human spaceflight, and what it means to have a space shuttle in Georgia. This addition is transformative not only for the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, but also for Columbus State University STEM programming, and enrichment, education, and tourism for the Columbus region and

For more information, please contact Mary Johnson, assistant director of  CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, at 706-649-1486 or mary@ccssc.org.

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CSU’s McCarty Secures Second NASA Internship

McCarty_CameronCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Cameron McCarty, a senior astrophysics and planetary geology major at Columbus State University, has already tracked comets for NASA.

Now, he’s shooting for the moon.

On June 1, the Columbus native will begin a 10-week internship at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He will be doing lunar regolith analysis, which is the study of that heavenly body’s soil and rock composition.

“I’ll be working with lunar soil doing microwave analysis with it, or I’ll be doing (work with) thin sections of rock brought back from the moon,” McCarty said. “They’re testing how sunlight heats up lunar soil. Lunar soil is pointier. It’s sharper than soil here on Earth because of weathering. They think that it might heat up differently because the smaller, sharper particles can heat up faster. They’re testing that to see if that actually happens.”

Those thin sections of rock were brought back from the moon by astronauts on Apollo 15 in 1971.

”I’d be identifying different types of minerals in that rock,” he said.

And he will be looking at it in a new way as well. The usual method has been to use optical light to identify elements. This time, McCarty said, he will use X-rays to determine composition of the rock.

“With that, we will also determine the composition of the moon in a different way than we have previously done,” McCarty said. “That’s significant. Since we (astrophysicists) believe the moon was formed when a small protoplanet — a planet in the stage of formation — hit Earth about 4.6 billion years ago, the moon was sort of flung off the Earth. A protoplanet hit the Earth and then a piece smacked off and that became our moon.”

That means that, by analyzing the structure and composition of the moon, ”we can also help to figure out the composition of the Earth,” McCarty said. “There might be some minerals that are capable of holding water or minerals that we may want to mine in the future. Those are all good aspects of looking at lunar geology.”

Before his internship officially begins, McCarty will be one of four NASA interns at Marshall to represent their intern program at the Citizens for Space Exploration 2014 Washington D.C. Fly-In on May 20-23.

The Huntsville interns will be part of a larger group of people from across the country who share enthusiasm for the work NASA does. Sponsorship includes a $750 stipend to cover each participant’s travel expenses. The citizens group, which has organized the fly-ins for 20-plus years, is a coalition representing economic interests in several locales with strong NASA connections, including Cocoa Beach, Fla., and Houston, Texas.

“(The fly-in) is very exciting for me,” McCarty said. “I’ll be attending meetings with congressmen and getting a tour of Capitol Hill. During that time I’ll be talking to congressmen about the benefits of NASA and space travel.”

McCarty, who has one semester of coursework remaining before graduation, had an internship last fall doing comet analysis with Bill Cooke, NASA’s lead scientist in the Huntsville-based Meteoroid Environment Office. Second internships with NASA offices are rare. A grant helps the agency pay for a first internship, but a second internship has to be paid out of a specific office’s budget.

During McCarty first internship he was looking at different comets as they came close to the Earth. As part of their work on the near-Earth environment, they tracked Comet ISON as it approached the sun and monitored how it was shedding material.

ISON didn’t survive its encounter with the sun, but McCarty’s skills at tracking and photographing the comet enhanced his reputation. McCarty’s image of the famous comet, taken using NASA’s 20-inch robotic telescope in New Mexico, is still displayed on NASA’s website dedicated to Comet ISON (http://www.nasa.gov/cometison/).

McCarty’s ISON images were the second time in a seven-month period where his work was featured on a major NASA website. His image of a May 10, 2013 solar eclipse, taken in Australia as part of the webcast expedition by CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, was featured as NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day  (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130511.html).

In April, at CSU’s annual Scholastic Honors Convocation, McCarty was named the top physics student in CSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences. For more information on its astrophysics and planetary geology major, as well as other degree options, visit http://ColumbusState.edu/ess.

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$15 Million NASA Artifact to Arrive in Columbus Friday

COLUMBUS, Ga. —  A part of space exploration history is about to make Columbus its home. A main engine nozzle from the space shuttle arrives Friday at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.in preparation becoming part of a permanent display in Uptown Columbus.

To celebrate the arrival of the $15 million artifact, two free public ceremonies will take place as the nozzle travels by trailer Friday morning from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to Columbus. The public can check out the nozzle at:

  • Phenix City Intermediate School, 2401 South Railroad St., Phenix City, Ala., for a 6:30 p.m. nozzle arrival, ceremony and photo opportunities.
  • Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Ave., Columbus, for outdoor entertainment and refreshments at 7 p.m., followed by a 7:45 p.m. nozzle arrival, ceremony and photo opportunities.

That the nozzledesignated as an artifact for CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Centerreaches Columbus on July 20 is not by accident. It was scheduled then to coincide with the 43rd anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon.

“Just as Apollo 11 marked the beginning of a new era of exploration, Friday’s NASA artifact transfer marks an important paradigm shift for the space science center,” said Mary Johnson, the center’s assistant director. “With the arrival of these historical additions to the center, the center’s tourism value, the impact within the Columbus community, throughout the region and state, will be significantly enhanced, as will the center’s ability to continue to provide innovative and unique opportunities for inquiry-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.”

The nozzle that the center will exhibit has flown to space nine times and on all four shuttles in service during its lifetime – Atlantis (three times), Discovery (twice), Endeavour (once) and Columbia (three times). It was involved in 39 total engine starts — 24 for development and testing, three for engine certification and 12 actual launch-pad firings, including a flight readiness firing before Endeavour’s maiden voyage and two launch-pad aborts.

The overall engine burn time on the nozzle is more than five hours and 16 minutes, a “truly phenomenal statistic considering it only takes the shuttle about eight minutes to get to space,” said Shawn Cruzen, director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and a CSU professor of astronomy.

The nozzle is the largest of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center’s nearly $20 million in artifacts it will receive from NASA.

For more information, call Johnson at 706-649-1486 or email mary@ccssc.org.

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$15 Million NASA Artifact Arrives at CSU Space Science Center

COLUMBUS, Ga. —  A part of space exploration history is about to make Columbus its home. A main engine nozzle from the space shuttle arrives Friday at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center in preparation to become part of a permanent display at the center in Uptown Columbus.

Nozzle arrrives at CCSSC.To celebrate the arrival of the $15 million artifact, two free public ceremonies will take place as the nozzle travels by trailer Friday morning from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to Columbus. The public can check out the nozzle at:

  • Phenix City Intermediate School, 2401 South Railroad St., Phenix City, Ala., during a 6:30 p.m. nozzle arrival, ceremony and photo opportunities.
  • Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Ave., Columbus, for outdoor entertainment and refreshments at 7 p.m., followed by a 7:45 p.m. nozzle arrival, ceremony and photo opportunities.

That the nozzledesignated as an artifact for CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Centerreaches Columbus on July 20 is not by accident. It was scheduled then to coincide with the 43rd anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon.

“Just as Apollo 11 marked the beginning of a new era of exploration, Friday’s NASA artifact transfer marks an important paradigm shift for the space science center,” said Mary Johnson, the center’s assistant director. “With the arrival of these historical additions to the center, the center’s tourism value, the impact within the Columbus community, throughout the region and state, will be significantly enhanced, as will the center’s ability to continue to provide innovative and unique opportunities for inquiry-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.”

The nozzle that the center will exhibit has flown to space nine times and on all four shuttles in service during its lifetime – Atlantis (three times), Discovery (twice), Endeavour (once) and Columbia (three times). It was involved in 39 total engine starts — 24 for development and testing, three for engine certification and 12 actual launch-pad firings, including a flight readiness firing before Endeavour’s maiden voyage and two launch-pad aborts.

The overall engine burn time on the nozzle is more than five hours and 16 minutes, a “truly phenomenal statistic considering it only takes the shuttle about eight minutes to get to space,” said Shawn Cruzen, director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and a CSU professor of astronomy.

The nozzle is the largest of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center’s nearly $20 million in artifacts it will receive from NASA.

For more information, call Johnson at 706-649-1486 or email mary@ccssc.org.

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Photo caption: A crowd was on hand at Columbus State’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center on July 20 to welcome the arrival of a space shuttle nozzle. (Photo by Tamma Smith)
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Columbus State Scientists Head to Australia, Mongolia to Capture Transit of Venus

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Partnering with NASA, researchers from Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center will travel to Mongolia and Australia next week to get the best possible images of Venus passing between the Earth and the sun, a celestial event that won’t occur again for another 105 years.

CCSSC travel sites

Space science center staff will be teaching and watching the skies at a middle school near Alice Springs in Australia, working from a tent city in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, and also stationed in Utah and at home in Columbus to photograph, video and webcast Venus as it moves across the face of the sun in an event that astronomers call a transit. The 2012 Transit of Venus will last nearly seven hours from June 5-6, providing extraordinary viewing opportunities for observers around the world, said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the center and a Columbus State University astronomy professor.

“For astronomy fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Cruzen said. “Unfortunately audiences in the continental United States will only be able to see a portion of the transit as the sun sets in the west. An additional limitation in viewing the sun is the danger posed to the naked eye. Special equipment and techniques are required to create a safe observing environment.”

In an effort to make this event more accessible to the public, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center has partnered with NASA and the International Space School Education Trust to provide a multi-continent webcast of the 2012 Transit of Venus. The space science center is believed to be the only university-affiliated institution partnering with NASA to provide images from remote locations for its webcast.

Audiences throughout the world will have an opportunity to experience the event safely via the Internet and NASA TV. Using private funds, Coca-Cola Space Science Center teams are traveling to Mongolia and to a school in the Australian outback near Alice Springs to be in optimal observation sites to acquire images and video of the entire transit.

The team going to Australia leaves Sunday and are not only going to record the transit but will be part of an extensive outreach effort, teaching and lecturing about the transit and other related astronomy topics to hundreds of local schoolchildren. They are also scheduled to be interviewed by a national television station.

The team going to Mongolia leaves June 2. They will spend about 18 hours in the air before arriving in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and trekking to their camp. The expedition is being led by a team that includes a former space shuttle commander and a former astronaut trainer and will also include extensive leadership training, team-building and communication exercises.

Both teams are soliciting questions about the event from students around the world and posting answers, videos and updates on a blog at http://ccsscvenustransit2012.blogspot.com.

In addition to the teams traveling to the other side of the globe to record the transit, one team will remain in Georgia to provide local images and video of the event. A Columbus State University student, Katherine Lodder, will provide yet another set of U.S. images from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Other Columbus State University students involved in the effort will be behind the scenes working on the computers to coordinate images and the webcast.

Experts caution that the only safe ways to view the Transit of Venus will be through a solar-filtered telescope, a rear-projection screen, welding glasses (No. 14 or above) or a live webcast such as that being staged by NASA and CSU’s center. In Georgia, on Tuesday, June 5, the transit will be viewable starting at about 6 p.m., continuing until sunset. CSU staffers stationed in Mongolia and Australia will be able to view and record the entire seven-hour event, continuing into Wednesday, June 6.

“Literally, we want geographically disparate sites so we don’t get clouded out,” Cruzen said.

They will send images back to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center at 701 Front Ave. in downtown Columbus, which will be open for visitors to see pictures and videos of the transit from 5:30-11 p.m. June 5.

Historians have traced interest in the Transit of Venus to ancient civilizations, but scientists began focusing on the planet’s movements starting in the 18th Century as a means of determining the size of the Earth’s solar system.

“Today, we know the size of the solar system,” Cruzen said. “But now, it can inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

The three continental teams capturing the transit will be equipped with hydrogen alpha, calcium K-line, and solar white light filters that will allow for spectacular imaging of this event. These filters are provided by the center’s Mead Observatory, where they are used regularly to obtain images and animations of solar phenomena such as sunspots, flares, plages, faculae, prominences, and filaments. Typically, students from Columbus State study these solar phenomena to better understand the sun’s cycle of activity and its interaction with the Earth. However, during the Transit of Venus, these solar features will become, for one final period in our lives, the stunning backdrop against which Venus’ planetary disk will cross the sun’s 865,000-mile face.

View the webcast by visiting http://www.ccssc.org/transit2012.html or by linking through the NASA partners page at NASA’s Sun Earth Day website, http://sunearthday.nasa.gov.

###

For more information, contact:

Mary H. Johnson
Assistant Director, Coca-Cola Space Science Center
Columbus State University
Phone: 706-649-1486
Email: mary@ccssc.org

Image, above: Logos of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center indicate foreign locations where its teams will be stationed, in Mongolia and Australia. (Download highest-resolution version of map.)

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Georgia Scientists Head to Remote Parts of World to Capture Transit of Venus

CCSSC travel sitesCOLUMBUS, GA — Researchers from Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center are partnering with NASA and traveling to Mongolia and Australia next month to get the best possible images of Venus passing between the Earth and the sun, a celestial event that will not take place again for another 105 years.

Space science center staff will be teaching and watching the skies at a school near Alice Springs in Australia, working from a tent city in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, and also stationed in Utah and at home in Columbus, Ga. to photograph, video and webcast Venus as it moves across the face of the sun in an event that astronomers call a transit. The 2012 Transit of Venus will last nearly seven hours on June 5-6, and will provide an extraordinary viewing event for observers around the world, said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the center and a Columbus State University astronomy professor.

“For astronomy fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Cruzen said. “Unfortunately audiences in the continental United States will only be able to see a portion of the transit as the sun sets in the west. An additional limitation in viewing the sun is the danger posed to the naked eye. Special equipment and techniques are required to create a safe observing environment.”

In an effort to make this event more accessible to the public, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center has partnered with NASA and the International Space School Educational Trust to provide a multi-continent webcast of the 2012 Transit of Venus. The space science center is believed to be the only university-affiliated institution partnering with NASA to provide images from remote locations for its webcast.

Audiences throughout the world will have an opportunity to experience this entire event safely via the Internet and NASA’s TV channel. Using private dollars, Coca-Cola Space Science Center teams are traveling to Mongolia and to a school in the Australian outback near Alice Springs to be in optimal observing conditions to acquire images and video of the entire transit.

Another team will remain in Georgia to provide local images and video of the event, and Columbus State University student Katherine Lodder will provide a second set of U.S. images from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Other Columbus State University students involved in the effort will work behind the scenes on computers to coordinate all the images and the ensuing webcast

Historians have traced interest in the Transit of Venus to ancient civilizations, but scientists began focusing on the planet’s movements starting in the 18th Century as a means of determining the size of the Earth’s solar system.

“Today, we know the size of the solar system,” Cruzen said. “But now, it can inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

The three continental teams capturing the transit will be equipped with hydrogen alpha, calcium K-line, and solar white light filters that will allow for spectacular imaging of this event. These filters are provided by the center’s Mead Observatory, where they are used regularly to obtain images and animations of solar phenomena such as sunspots, flares, plages, faculae, prominences and filaments. Typically, students from Columbus State study these solar phenomena to better understand the sun’s cycle of activity and its interaction with the Earth. However, during the Transit of Venus, these solar features will become, for one final period in our lives, the stunning backdrop against which Venus’ planetary disk will cross the sun’s 865,000-mile wide face, Cruzen said.

View the webcast by visiting http://www.ccssc.org/transit2012.html or by linking through the NASA partners at NASA’s Sun Earth Day website, http://sunearthday.nasa.gov.

###

For more information:

Shawn T. Cruzen, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Coca-Cola Space Science Center
Professor, Dept of Earth and Space Sciences at Columbus State University
Phone: (706) 649-1785
Email: shawn@ccssc.org

or

Mary H. Johnson
Assistant Director, Coca-Cola Space Science Center
Columbus State University
Phone: 706-649-1486
Email: mary@ccssc.org

Image, above: Logos of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center indicate foreign locations where its teams will be stationed, in Mongolia and Australia. (Download highest-resolution version of map.)

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June’s Venus Transit Should Provide Spectacular Images and Research Opportunities

CCSSC travel sitesCOLUMBUS, Ga. – Partnering with NASA, researchers from Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center will travel to Mongolia and Australia in June to document Venus’ trip between the Earth and sun, a celestial event that won’t occur again for another 105 years.

Stationed in Utah and Columbus in North America, Alice Springs in Australia and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, space science center staff will photograph, shoot video and webcast Venus as it moves across the face of the sun in an event that astronomers call a transit. The 2012 Transit of Venus will last nearly seven hours from June 5-6, providing extraordinary viewing opportunities for observers around the world, said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the center and a Columbus State University astronomy professor.

“For astronomy fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Cruzen said. “Unfortunately audiences in the continental United States will only be able to see a portion of the transit as the sun sets in the west. An additional limitation in viewing the sun is the danger posed to the naked eye. Special equipment and techniques are required to create a safe observing environment.”

In an effort to make this event more accessible to the public, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center has partnered with NASA and the International Space School Education Trust to provide a multi-continent webcast of the 2012 Transit of Venus. The space science center is believed to be the only university-affiliated institution partnering with NASA to provide images from remote locations for its webcast

Audiences throughout the world will have an opportunity to experience this entire event safely via the Internet and NASA’s TV channel. Coca-Cola Space Science Center teams are traveling to Mongolia and the Australian outback near Alice Springs to be in optimal observation sites to acquire images and video of the entire transit.

Another team will remain in Georgia to provide local images and video, and Columbus State University student Katherine Lodder will provide a second set of U.S. images from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. All teams will be equipped with hydrogen alpha, calcium K-line, and solar white light filters that will allow for spectacular imaging of the event, Cruzen said.

Those filters are provided by the center’s Mead Observatory, where they are used regularly to obtain images and animations of solar phenomena such as sunspots, flares, plages, faculae, prominences, and filaments. Typically, students from Columbus State study solar phenomena to better understand the sun’s cycle of activity and its interaction with the Earth. However, during the Transit of Venus, these solar features will become, for one final period in their lives, a stunning backdrop against which Venus’ planetary disk will cross the sun’s 865,000-mile face.

View the webcast by visiting http://www.ccssc.org/transit2012.html or by linking through the NASA partners at NASA’s Sun Earth Day website, http://sunearthday.nasa.gov.

# # #

NOTE to media: Dr. Shawn Cruzen is available for interviews via Skype or in person until May 18. He can be reached at (706) 649-1785 or by email at shawn@ccssc.org. Other Coca-Cola Space Science Center representatives will be available after May 18, until the June 5-6 event.

Image, above: Logos of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center indicate foreign locations where its teams will be stationed, in Mongolia and Australia. (Download highest-resolution version of map.)

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Agreement Offers Route from Engineering at CSU to Degree at Partner School

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Students enrolling in Columbus State University’s engineering program now have a chance to fly high in their careers, thanks to a new partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Cody O'Shea discusses robotics.

That relationship and other aspects of Columbus State’s program will be the focus of Engineering Day Saturday, March 24 at CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center. The free event runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the center, 701 Front Ave., in Uptown Columbus.

Engineers from local companies will participate, and many will display technology related to their work. Local school groups will offer robotics demonstrations, and a representative of CSU will discuss its new robotics certification program. CSU and Embry-Riddle officials will also discuss details of its new partnership.

The arrangement allows Columbus Sate students who complete the university’s new two-year Associate of Science in engineering studies degree to complete a Bachelor of Science through the Florida-based school’s satellite campus at Pratt and Whitney’s Midland plant near Columbus.

This partnership benefits, in particular, employees of the industrial giant that overhauls aircraft engines in Columbus as the company offers tuition reimbursement benefits. The agreement means Embry-Riddle will recognize engineering credits earned at CSU.

Columbus State students taking engineering courses have long enjoyed success in moving from CSU to complete undergraduate bachelor’s degrees in engineering at Georgia Tech. The ERAU relationship is similar, but it has an added incentive for military personnel.

“At the end of the day, it’s a win for the military because we offer an opportunity for the soldiers with another degree program,” said Mark Ridley, CSU’s director of military affairs. “It’s a great thing to have for our community.”

Linda Campbell, director of academic support for Embry-Riddle’s Columbus campus, worked with Ridley to develop the new partnership.

“Mark and I saw an opportunity to create a program that would be engineering-focused on a specific area for the soldiers at Fort Benning,” Campbell said. “And getting their bachelor’s from the most highly renowned aviation and aerospace university in the world will give them many opportunities.”

The Army offers special pay incentives to officers who earn engineering degrees.

“With ROTC right on campus at CSU, their pre-engineering program will offer military students a path to accomplish a highly recognized B.S. degree with ERAU, making them more marketable,” Campbell said.

###

Photo: Columbus State student Cody O’Shea demonstrates one of the advanced robotics platforms used by students in CSU’s new robotics certification program while standing in front of a display at CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center during Engineering Day on Saturday, March 24. (More Engineering Day photos.)

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Space Science Center to Receive Historic Space Shuttle Nozzle

COLUMBUS, Ga. – After initially planning to retain all shuttle nozzles for use in their next generation of space vehicles, NASA is allowing one to go on display, and it is coming to Columbus State University’s Coca Cola Space Science Center.

“This piece is a true NASA veteran and a serious workhorse of the Space Shuttle program,” Shawn Cruzen, director of the Space Science Center, said. “It is dripping with history, and we will be able to use it to tell an amazing story of American space flight in our facility.”

It would not have happened without intervention of local politicians, including Senators Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), and Congressmen Sanford D. Bishop (Ga.) and Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) – whose offices all contacted NASA on CSU’s behalf, Cruzen said.

Shuttle Nozzle

The hope was that the nozzle had some significance to the space program, that perhaps it was used in testing or prototyping, maybe even flowing on a mission. What CSU’s space center received was much more given the nozzle’s storied history:

  • It has been into space nine times and has been on all four of the shuttles in service during its lifetime – Atlantis and Columbia (three times each), Discovery (twice) and Endeavour (once).
  • It carried Charles Bolden, NASA’s current NASA Director, to space on the first-ever flight of a shuttle to the Mir Space Station, and shuttle astronauts Jim Wetherbee, Brian Duffy and Roger Crouch – all of whom have visited the Space Science Center – also flew on flights using this nozzle.
  • It was involved in 39 total engine starts – 24 for development and testing, 3 for engine certification, and 12 actual launch-pad firings – including a flight readiness firing before Endeavour’s maiden voyage and two launch-pad aborts.
  • The overall engine burn time on this nozzle is 5 hours 16 minutes and 13 seconds.

The nozzle is just one of a series of space artifacts that will be coming to the space science center over the coming years. Including the nozzle, artifacts totaling $19,123,557 are slated for the Space Science Center. To accommodate the items will mean a $4 million renovation project for the facility. Of that total $2.5 million would be for renovating the exterior and an additional $1.5 million for exterior modifications. A fundraising drive will be initiated to help reach the targeted goal.

# # #

Caption: Shuttle nozzle courtesy of NASA

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Space Science Center Celebrates 15th Anniversary

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center marks its 15th anniversary June 25 with giveaways, interactive demonstrations, presentations and an appearance by a former Kennedy Space Center director.

Saturday’s activities are free and will run from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. at the center, 701 Front Ave., Columbus.

The event features a 12-30-1:30 p.m. presentation by Jay F. Honeycutt, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center from 1995-1997. For six years before that, he directed shuttle management and operations at Kennedy. His oversight covered engineering management and technical direction of preflight launch, landing and recovery activities for shuttle vehicles. He has since remained active in lunar and space travel research as a private executive.

Seats for the Honeycutt presentation are limited and can be reserved by picking up a free ticket from the center this week.

The program also includes interactive air rocket activities, planetarium shows, a Challenger Learning Center open house, a birthday cake cutting, T-shirt giveaways and a closing, Astronomy Night session of stargazing and planet viewing.

Celebration Schedule

  • 10 a.m.-noon – Air Rocket Activity
  • 11 a.m. – Omnisphere Theatre Show: In My Backyard
  • 11:30 a.m.-noon – Physics Demonstrations
  • Noon – Live Star ID in Omnsphere Theatre
  • 1-1:30 p.m. – Omnisphere Theatre Presentation: “Countdown to Launch: The Future of the CCSSC”
  • 1:30-2:30 p.m. – Presentation by Jay Honeycutt
  • 2:30-3 p.m. – Physics Demonstrations
  • 3 p.m. – Omnisphere Theatre Show: Astronaut
  • 3-4 p.m. – Air Rocket Activity
  • 4 p.m. – Omnisphere Theatre Show: Sesame Street
  • 5 p.m.- Laser Show
  • 6 p.m. – Omnisphere Theatre Show: Seven Wonders
  • 7 p.m. – Omnisphere Theatre Show: Black Holes
  • 8 p.m. – Laser Show
  • 9 p.m. – Astronomy Night Program

For more information, contact Mary Johnson at 706-649-1486 or mary@ccssc.org, or go to http://www.ccssc.org.

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NASA Exhibit and Veterans Appreciation Weekend at Space Science Center

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center hosts a traveling NASA exhibition and special astronomy night program while saluting military veterans Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 11-13 at the center, 711 Front Ave., Columbus.

Veteran and active military personnel will receive free admission to both the center and unlimited Omnisphere Theatre shows. Additional family members each will receive $1 off all admission prices.

Concurrently, the Exploration Experience traveling exhibition from the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center will be free and open to anyone. The exhibit incorporates 3-D imagery and the latest audio effects with video technology. Visitors can touch a real moon rock, learn about the history and future of NASA space exploration programs and take home a souvenir photo as an astronaut.

A special, Friday edition of center’s Astronomy Night series will run 4-8 p.m. as staff members guide guests in a free program of stargazing and planet viewing.

Hours for the center and NASA exhibit are

• Thursday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (both)
• Friday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (center) and noon-8 p.m. (exhibit)
• Saturday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (center) and 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. (exhibit)

For more on the NASA exhibit, go to http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/outreach. For more about the space science center, call 706-649-1470 or go to http://www.ccssc.org.

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Workshop Strengthens Astronomy Curriculum in Georgia

COLUMBUS, Ga. – High School science teachers from Columbus and around the state are participating in a June 21-30, NASA-funded workshop designed to produce an innovative and rigorous astronomy curriculum for Georgia high schools.

Columbus State University is partnering with Georgia Southern University and the Georgia Department of Education to deliver the project called GEARS (Georgians Experience Astronomy Research in Schools).

From CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, selected teachers are learning to retrieve data from NASA missions such as SOHO, Hubble, Kepler, and Chandra and are being provided the tools to analyze the data. This data can be used to explore colliding galaxies, space weather, supernovae and planets outside the solar system.

CSU physics professor and workshop co-leader Zo Webster said the biggest challenge is to teach “so much material” in a two-week period. “We’re giving the teachers a fire hose approach to astronomy,” she said. “We’re trying to introduce them to as many technological tools as possible so that they can bring the real data into their classrooms.”

Among the registered participants representing the Muscogee County School District are Pamela Abell, Brenda Howell, Gary Lawhon, Luther Richardson, LaJoyce Sanders, Laura Solomons and Karen Stephenson. Others include Jeffrey Klotz from Pacelli, Brittany Moss from Harris County and Sudish Nair from Stewart County.

“The new astronomy curriculum developed as part of GEARS will help propel Georgia forward as an innovator in k-12 science education as it will meld the use of authentic data and technology in the classroom,” said Webster, who co-wrote a $1.4 million NASA grant to launch the project. “NASA resources are so varied that making interesting and relevant lessons should be relatively easy. We hope to have every high school in the state able to teach astronomy as a fourth (or elective) science by the end of the grant period (2012).”

A separate group of teachers recently completed the same workshop on the Georgia Southern campus, where Webster joined GSU physics professor Sarah Higdon in conducting the training. Higdon said another purpose of GEARS is to change the way astronomy is taught in Georgia’s high schools. “Instead of teaching out of a textbook, we wanted to teach the students how to do research and quality-based activities.”

Webster said future workshops for both sets of teachers will introduce black holes and relativity. For more information, contact Webster at webster_zodiac@ColumbusState.edu.

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