New Space and Tech

NASA Seeks K-12 Educators To Defy Gravity, Conduct Research

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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For the first time, NASA is offering teachers from across the country an opportunity usually reserved for researchers — the chance to design a science experiment and then test it aboard a microgravity research plane. Proposals should be submitted to NASA’s Teaching From Space office by March 14. For more information about the program, send an e-mail to:
Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, please visit:

“Any teacher from anywhere in the country can submit a proposal to fly an experiment,” said Cindy McArthur, Teaching From Space project manager. “It doesn’t matter if you teach kindergarten or advanced placement in high school. What better way to make science and math come alive? We can’t wait to see the experiments educators and their students propose.”

Previous proposals were tied to NASA education programs such NASA Explorer Schools. This year the opportunity is open to any certified teacher, kindergarten through 12th grade, who is in the classroom and is a U.S. citizen. The teachers chosen to participate will design and fabricate an experiment that takes advantage of a reduced gravity environment – just like the environment onboard the International Space Station and the space shuttle.

On March 30, NASA will select 14 teams, composed of four or more teachers. This summer, teachers and their experiments will fly aboard a modified Boeing 727 jetliner provided by the Zero-Gravity Corp. of Las Vegas.

To achieve weightlessness, the aircraft makes roller-coaster-like climbs and dips to produce periods of micro- and hyper-gravity, ranging from 0 g’s to 2 g’s. It takes about 30 climbs to complete an experiment.

Teaching From Space is partnering with the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to provide the flights. The program continues NASA’s investment in the nation’s education programs by supporting the goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to future space exploration.

For more information about NASA’s education activities, visit:

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.