Teacher Professional Development Program Uses Zero Gravity Flights To Help Educators Inspire Students to Study Math and Science
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - June 12, 2007 - The Northrop Grumman Foundation announced today that it will sponsor the national Weightless Flights of Discovery, an innovative science and engineering education program that incorporates zero gravity flight experiences for teachers. This year's program will also include university students planning careers as teachers. The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery will operate out of eight cities across the United States from August through December 2007.
The program utilizes hands-on science workshops and Zero Gravity Corporation's (ZERO-G(R)) unique weightless flights to help educators teach students to share the fun and excitement of science, technology, engineering and math. Last year's Weightless Flights of Discovery program hosted 250 teachers representing 49 states, five U.S. territories and 24 countries. The goal for this year is to fly approximately 400 teachers and college students. "The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery is a truly innovative and exciting way to focus the attention of teachers and students on the opportunities science, technology, engineering and mathematics can provide," said Sandra Evers-Manly, President of the Northrop Grumman Foundation, "We are excited about sponsoring this year's program to more teachers and locations and to include college students," she continued.
Plans call for ZERO-G to conduct teacher workshops and parabolic flights in eight U.S. metropolitan areas including: Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Colorado Springs, Co., New Orleans, Newport News, Va., Dallas and Bethpage, NY. The program will include eight workshops and 16 flights in all, and will prepare teachers to lead students in topics that relate to 30 National Science Standards.
"We are proud to partner with the Northrop Grumman Foundation on the Weightless Flights of Discovery program and believe that by making space and microgravity concepts more accessible to educators and students, we will help inspire tomorrow's explorers," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, CEO and Co-Founder of ZERO-G.
During the workshops, teachers and students receive instruction in science and engineering concepts, pre-flight training in weightlessness and tips on experiment design and demonstration to learn how to work in lunar, Martian and zero gravity environments. They also learn how to relate those experiments to science, engineering, technology and mathematics curriculum development.
Last year's teacher participants found the experience to be both educational and inspirational: "The sensations, the experimental results, the camaraderie - these were all extremely valuable to the learning experience," said Janet English, teacher at Serrano Intermediate School in Lake Forest, Calif. "I believe the best way to inspire people is to involve them in an experience that engages their intellect as well as their emotions. You've done this for us."
Michael Crawford, a teacher at Monroe Clark Middle School in San Diego, said, "The explanation of why zero gravity occurs was amazing. I, like everyone I have asked about it since, was under the impression that weightlessness would occur because the plane flew down at the same speed at which it would be natural to fall. Now I realize how inertia is the key to the whole thing. I feel much more prepared to give this explanation (to my students)."
The teacher and student flights will include approximately 15 parabolas ranging from low-gravity environments typical of the moon (1/6 G) and Mars (1/3 G) to complete weightlessness. At the end of each weightless period, which lasts approximately 30 seconds, the aircraft is gradually pulled out of the descent, reestablishing a more normal gravity environment inside the plane.
About the Northrop Grumman Foundation
The Northrop Grumman Foundation is primarily focused on supporting diverse and sustainable programs that improve the educational experience for students, especially in the subjects of literacy, math, science and technology. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com or call (888) 478-5478.
Zero Gravity Corporation (www.GoZeroG.com) is a privately held space entertainment and tourism company whose mission is to make the excitement and adventure of space accessible to the public. ZERO-G is based in Las Vegas and Florida and is the first and only FAA-approved provider of weightless flight to the general public, as well as the entertainment and film industries; corporate and incentive market; non-profit research and education sectors; and government. For more information about ZERO-G, please visit http://www.GoZeroG.com or call 1-800-937-6480.
Kirvin Doak Communications
Northrop Grumman Communications