NASA Education Express Message -- Sept. 25, 2014

Status Report From: NASA Education Office
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014

Free Education Webinars From NASA Educator Professional Development -- Studying Precipitation From Above Earth

Join NASA Educator Professional Development on Sept. 25, 2014, at 7 p.m. EDT, for an hourlong webinar for educators interested in learning about the latest data from NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission and how NASA is able to study Earth's water cycle from space. NASA resources relating to the water cycle, satellite engineering, weather and climate will be shared. This webinar will feature special guest presenters, Kristen Weaver and Dorian Janney, education specialists with the Global Precipitation Measurement mission team.

For more information and to register online, visit


NASA Virtual University Offers Two New Courses

NASA Education is presenting a pair of free online courses for educators who wish to integrate NASA educational lessons and activities into their learning environments. Offered through the NASA Virtual University, each course consists of a series of webinars led by NASA education specialists. Each webinar will be offered twice. Courses are free, but you must register to attend.

Engineering: NASA Design Challenges for the Classroom
This course consists of four weeks of weekly webinars and is designed to introduce educators to ways to integrate engineering design into existing curricula. The first webinar in the series takes place on Sept. 29, 2014, at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EDT.

Mathematics: Algebraic Equations
This course consists of three weeks of weekly webinars and is designed to introduce educators to tools for teaching algebraic equations. The first webinar in the series takes place on Nov. 3, 2014, at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST.

For more information about these webinars and to register online, visit


Send Your Name to the Asteroid Bennu!

NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names to be etched on a microchip aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016.

The "Messages to Bennu!" microchip will travel to the asteroid aboard the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft. The robotic mission will spend more than two years at the asteroid, which has a width of approximately 1,760 feet (500 meters). The spacecraft will collect a sample of Bennu's surface and return it to Earth in a sample return capsule.

The deadline to submit names online is Sept. 30, 2014. Participants who submit their names to the "Messages to Bennu!" campaign will be able to print a certificate of appreciation to document their involvement.

For more information and to submit your name, visit

Participants who "follow" or "like" the mission on Facebook ( will receive updates on the location of their names in space from launch time until the asteroid samples return to Earth in 2023. Facebook fans also will receive mission progress and late-breaking news through regular status updates.

For more information about the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit and

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to


Submit Messages for Asteroid Mission Time Capsule

NASA is inviting the worldwide public to submit short messages and images on social media that could be placed in a time capsule aboard a spacecraft launching to an asteroid in 2016.

The Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer spacecraft, also known as OSIRIS-Rex, will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2019. OSIRIS-REx will collect a sample and return it in a capsule to Earth in 2023 for detailed study. The robotic mission will spend more than two years at the asteroid, which is 1,760 feet (500 meters) wide, and return a minimum of 2 ounces (60 grams) of its surface material.

Topics for submissions by the public should be about solar system exploration in 2014 and predictions for space exploration activities in 2023. The mission team will choose 50 tweets and 50 images to be placed in the capsule. Messages must be submitted by Sept. 30, 2014.

When the sample return capsule returns to Earth in 2023 with the asteroid material, the mission team will open the time capsule to view the messages and images, at which time the selected submissions will be posted online.

For details on procedures and rules for submitting a message and image, visit

For more about the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit


Free Education Webinar Series From NASA Educator Professional Development -- Engineering Design in the Classroom Series

NASA Educator Professional Development is presenting a free series of webinars designed to help teachers incorporate engineering design as a problem-solving method. Join NASA education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources to bring NASA into your classroom.

Engineering Design in the Classroom Part 1: An Introduction
Pre-service, In-service, Home School Educators of Grades 5-9

Event Date: Sept. 30, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. EDT
During this 60-minute webinar, participants will be introduced to inquiry-based activities related to the engineering design cycle.

Engineering Design in the Classroom Part 2: Implementation
Pre-service and In-service, Home School Educators of Grades 5-9

Event Date: Oct. 1, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. EDT
During this 60-minute webinar, participants will learn how engineering concepts and the design process can be used to reinforce content across science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines while building students' problem-solving skills.

Engineering Design in the Classroom Part 3: Assessment
Pre-service and In-service, Home School Educators of Grades 5-9

Event Date: Oct. 2, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. EDT
During this 60-minute webinar, participants will be introduced to multiple potential methods of assessing both the final design product and the students' use of engineering design principals.

For more information about these webinars and to register online, visit


2014-2015 Space Grant Midwest High-Power Rocketry Competition

The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium is hosting the Space Grant Midwest High-Power Rocket Competition during the 2014-2015 academic year. This competition challenges college students to design and construct high-power rockets to be launched in May 2015 at a launch site near Minneapolis, Minnesota. No previous experience in high-power rocketry is necessary to compete!

Up to 20 U.S. teams may participate. Each team must be sponsored by its state’s Space Grant Consortium. Sponsorship may or may not involve financial support. Teams must submit a nonbinding “Notice of Intent to Compete” by Oct. 1, 2014.

For more information, visit

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to Dr. James Flaten of the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium at


Presidential Management Fellows Program: STEM Opportunity

NASA and other federal agencies are always looking for the best and brightest science and engineering talent. To help agencies find those talented individuals, the Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, has developed and piloted a track of the Presidential Management Fellows program focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

The Presidential Management Fellows, or PMF, program is a federal-wide, flagship leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. The program attracts and selects the best candidates possible and is designed with a focus on developing a cadre of potential government leaders. The PMF-STEM track seeks to identify the best future government leaders in STEM disciplines and place them in entry-level positions in federal agencies around the country. PMF-STEM was piloted last year with a low-key rollout.

This year, OPM would like to expand the PMF-STEM track to continue to support the STEM needs of the federal government. 

-- The PMF-STEM program is open to graduate students in STEM fields (degree must be confirmed by Aug. 31, 2015).
-- Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
-- The call for applications is expected to be released on Oct. 1, 2014, on and is generally open for two weeks.
-- Applicants must apply through
-- More information about the program and application process, including a detailed list of eligibility requirements, can be found at, and information on the PMF-STEM track can be found at

Federal agencies hire PMF-STEM finalists into paid, entry-level, two-year fellowship positions. At the end of the fellowship, finalists have two years of federal work experience and may be noncompetitively converted into permanent positions within the federal government. NASA participated in the 2014 pilot and intends to actively consider PMF-STEM candidates for the 2015 program.

Questions about this opportunity may be directed to


Celebrate World Space Week 2014

Imagine an entire week of space-themed activities to enhance learning. Join educators and space enthusiasts around the world to celebrate World Space Week, Oct. 4-10, 2014.

World Space Week is the largest public space event in the world, with over 1,400 events in more than 80 countries held during the week of Oct. 4-10.

In 2014, World Space Week encourages the use global navigation satellite systems space-themed activities.

To learn more about World Space Week, find educational materials, and register your event, visit


Centennial Challenges Mars Ascent Vehicle Prize

The Centennial Challenges Mars Ascent Vehicle, or MAV, Prize is helping to advance the technology to return samples from Mars. The challenge focuses on getting the samples from the Martian surface to Mars orbit for collection and return to Earth.

Centennial Challenges is partnering with the NASA Student Launch to conduct this challenge in parallel with the Student Launch competition. The MAV Prize is a challenge open to both academic and nonacademic teams to demonstrate technologies that may be relevant to future NASA Mars missions. 

Centennial Challenges will award prizes for successful demonstration of an end-to-end autonomous operation to sequentially accomplish the following tasks: picking up the sample, inserting the sample into a single-stage solid-propellant rocket in a horizontal position, erecting the rocket, launching the rocket to an altitude of 3,000 feet, deploying a sample container with the cache internally sealed and landing the container.

The first-place award is $25,000; second place is $15,000; and third place is $10,000. Competing teams will be eligible for prize money only after the successful completion of all the required tasks.

Interested teams may apply for the challenge by submitting a registration proposal to the Student Launch project office. Proposals are due Oct. 6, 2014

For more information about the challenge, visit

Please direct any questions about the MAV Challenge to Janet Anderson at


2015 RASC-AL Robo-Ops Competition

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace announce the 2015 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage Exploration Robo-Ops, also known as RASC-AL Robo-Ops, competition. This design competition is aimed at university-level engineering or science students.

The RASC-AL Robo-Ops contest challenges participants to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities in field tests at NASA's Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard. Up to three members of the team (plus the faculty advisor) may travel to Johnson Space Center for the onsite testing. The remaining team members will stay behind at the local university to conduct mission control tasks. The prototype rovers will be teleoperated by the mission control team members and must negotiate a series of obstacles while accomplishing a variety of tasks that include sample collection and acquisition. The only information available to the rover controller to perform the required tasks will be information transmitted through onboard rover video camera(s) or other onboard sensors.

Interested teams must submit a project plan for their proposed projects by Oct. 10, 2014. The RASC-AL Robo-Ops Steering Committee of NASA experts will evaluate the project plans and select up to eight teams to compete against each other at the Rock Yard in June 2015, providing each selected team with a $10,000 stipend to develop its rover. $12,000 in cash awards is available to the winning teams.

The RASC-AL competition is open to full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in engineering or science at an accredited university. University design teams must include one faculty or industry advisor with a university affiliation and two or more undergraduate or graduate students. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

For more information about this competition, visit

If you have questions about this competition, please contact Stacy Dees at or Shelley Spears at


OSSI NIFS -- Spring 2015 Opportunities

NASA's One Stop Shopping Initiative for Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships, or OSSI NIFS, strives to provide high school students and undergraduate and graduate students at all institutions of higher education access to a portfolio of internship, fellowship and scholarship opportunities offered by NASA mission directorates and centers.

Visit the Office of Education Infrastructure Division LaunchPad to find information on internship, fellowship and scholarship opportunities. The site features the OSSI NIFS online application for recruiting NASA interns, fellows and scholars. This innovative system allows students to search and apply for all types of higher education NASA internship, fellowship and scholarship opportunities in one location. A single application places the student in the applicant pool for consideration by all NASA mentors.

Applications for spring 2015 opportunities are due Oct. 12, 2014.

To find available opportunities and to fill out an online application, visit

Inquiries about OSSI NIFS should be submitted via


Celebrate Earth Science Week: Earth's Connected Systems

Join us for an exploration of our dynamic Earth! This year, Earth Science Week takes place Oct. 12-18, and celebrates Earth’s Connected Systems – from land to sea, ice to sky and everything living in between. 

NASA missions study Earth's system and help us to understand the interconnectivity among its components. NASA's Earth Science Week 2014 website covers NASA Earth missions and how scientists study our home planet, educational resources about Earth's system, videos, links to mission science, and more.

Visit the site to see a schedule of events for educators and the public:

Do you want the latest information on NASA Earth Science Week activities? Follow NASA's Earth Science Week team on Twitter (@NASAESW) or Facebook (


Solar System Ambassadors Program Accepting Applications

The NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Ambassadors, or SSA, Program, a nationwide network of space enthusiast volunteers, is accepting applications through Oct. 15, 2014.

Highly motivated individuals will be given the opportunity to represent NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as volunteer Solar System Ambassadors to the public for a one-year, renewable term beginning Jan. 1, 2015. 

While applications are being sought nationwide, interested parties from the following states are especially encouraged to apply: Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. SSA hopes to add 100 new volunteers to the program in 2015.

To learn more about the Solar System Ambassador Program and to apply online, visit The Announcement of Opportunity and application form are now available.

If you have questions about this opportunity, contact Kay Ferrari, SSA Coordinator, by email at


Earth Science Week 2014 Contests

The American Geosciences Institute is sponsoring a series of contests to celebrate Earth Science Week 2014. This year's celebration takes place Oct. 12-18, 2014.

Earth Science Week 2014 Photography Contest -- Open to All Ages

Earth science is the study of the geosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air) and biosphere (living things). These spheres -- or earth systems -- are continually affecting and influencing one another. In our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces and in our public gathering places, we can observe the dynamic interactions of "earth system science." In a photograph, capture evidence of the connections of earth systems in your community.

Earth Science Week 2014 Visual Arts Contest -- Open to Students in Grades K-5

Earth scientists -- or geoscientists -- study land, water, air and living things. In particular, these scientists pay attention to the ways these "connected systems" affect each other. For example, scientists study how water shapes the land, how living things use air and how air and water act on each other. How do these connected systems affect you? Use artwork to show how land, water, air and living things are connected in the world around you.

Earth Science Week 2014 Essay Contest -- Open to Students in Grades 6-9

Our planet's land, water, air, and living things each affect and are affected by one another. Earth scientists observe these interactions among earth systems -- the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Scientists study these interactions to seize opportunities and address challenges in areas such as harnessing energy, farming land, ensuring safe water, preparing for natural disasters, protecting the environment and building communities. Explain one way that geoscientists’ study of Earth's connected systems is helping to improve the world today.

The entry deadline for all three contests is Oct. 17, 2014. Visit the contest websites for full details.

If you have any questions about these contests, please email the Earth Science Week staff at


White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's Spring 2015 Policy Internship Program

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, is seeking students for spring 2015 internships. The OSTP advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analyses and judgment for the president with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the federal government

Policy internships are open to interested students from all majors and programs, including law school programs. Law students (and any other students) who are interested in policy may apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who are enrolled, at least half-time, in an accredited college or university during the period of volunteer service. Students in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in all fields are encouraged to apply.

While these positions are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment, practical work experience and networking opportunities with other individuals in the science and technology policy arena.

Applications for spring 2015 internships are due Oct. 17, 2014

For more information, visit

If you have questions about this opportunity, please contact Rebecca Grimm at


Open House 2014: NASA's Ames Research Center

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, NASA's Ames Research Center in California is hosting an open house. 

On Oct. 18, 2014, the public is invited to visit NASA's center in Silicon Valley. Take a 2-mile walking tour through the center, and visit with Ames engineers and scientists in booths set up in front of their facilities. After the walking tour, visit the plaza to learn about Ames' missions. Food, drinks and mementos will be available for purchase. 

General visitor parking will be offsite, and tickets with reserved entry times will be required to attend the event.

For more information, visit

Questions about the Ames Open House event should be directed to Sharon Lozano at


Sally Ride EarthKAM Announces 2014 Fall Missions

Students and educators have two chances to participate in Sally Ride EarthKAM this fall. The 2014 fall missions are scheduled to take place Oct. 21-24, 2014, and Nov. 18-21, 2014. Guide your students in hands-on research as they program a camera aboard the International Space Station to take pictures of specific locations on Earth. The optional online curricula at the Sally Ride EarthKAM website are targeted at middle school students but are adaptable for other grade levels. All students and educators are welcome, including participants in afterschool programs.

For more information and to register for an upcoming mission, visit the Sally Ride EarthKAM home page at

If you have questions about the EarthKAM project, please email


NASA Challenge: Build an App That Uses OpenNEX Climate and Earth Science Data

NASA recently made available, through Amazon Web Services, a large collection of climate and earth sciences satellite data. In coordination with this data release, NASA is challenging application developers to create new and exciting ways to use the data.

The challenge uses the Open NASA Earth Exchange, or OpenNEX. NEX is a data, computing and knowledge platform where users can share modeling and analyses codes, scientific results, knowledge and expertise to solve big data challenges in the earth sciences. A component of the NASA Earth Exchange, OpenNEX provides users through the Amazon Web Services a large collection of climate and earth science satellite data sets, including global land surface images, vegetation conditions, climate observations and climate projections.

The latest challenge tasks participants to create an app that uses the climate and earth science data in new and exciting ways. NASA is offering between $10,000 and $25,000 in awards for the development of an application or algorithm that promotes climate resilience using the OpenNEX data based on ideas from the first stage of the challenge. NASA will announce the overall challenge winners in December.

To educate citizen scientists on how the data on OpenNEX can be used, NASA is releasing a series of online video lectures and hands-on lab modules. To view this material, and for information on registering for the challenges, visit

The deadline for the challenge is Oct. 21, 2014

Complete details of the challenge are available at Specific questions about this challenge should be directed through the challenge website after registration.


NOAA Education and Science Forum 2014

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's, or NOAA, Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center located on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will co-host the Educational Partnership Program seventh biennial Education and Science Forum Oct. 26-29, 2014. This year’s theme is "Developing a Premier Future STEM Workforce to Support Environmental Sustainability."

This year's event kicks off with a series of student development workshops and an evening networking event on Sunday, Oct. 26.

The following day, the forum opens with plenary sessions featuring invited members of Congress and senior NOAA officials including Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, the agency administrator. Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, a distinguished scientist who holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space.

In addition to nationally recognized researchers, the forum typically attracts several hundred participants, including college students, postdoctoral fellows, academic and community leaders, government officials and private-sector representatives interested in promoting future workforce diversity in STEM disciplines.

Seventy-two oral and 150 poster presentations are expected and will span sciences and social sciences that encompass the environment -- atmosphere, marine and fisheries as well as remote sensing science and technologies.

For more information about how to participate and to register to attend, visit

Questions about the forum should be submitted via


NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowships

The NASA Postdoctoral Program, or NPP, supports NASA's goal to expand scientific understanding of the Earth and the universe in which we live.

Selected by a competitive peer-review process, NPP fellows complete one- to three-year fellowships that offer scientists and engineers unique opportunities to conduct research in fields of science relevant to NASA.

These opportunities advance NASA's missions in earth science, heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics, space bioscience, aeronautics and engineering, human exploration and space operations, and astrobiology. Opportunities are available at NASA centers and other NASA-approved sites.

As a result, NPP fellows contribute to national priorities for scientific exploration, confirm NASA's leadership in fundamental research and complement the efforts of NASA's partners in the national science community.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and foreign nationals eligible for J-1 status as a research scholar may apply. Applicants must have completed a doctorate or equivalent degree before beginning the fellowship, but may apply while completing degree requirements. Applicants who earned the Ph.D. more than five years before the deadline date are categorized as senior fellows; all applicants, no matter their category, must apply and become eligible for an NPP award via the same process.

Interested applicants may apply by one of three annual application deadlines: March 1, July 1 and November 1.

For more information and application procedures, go to

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to


2015 RASC-AL Aerospace Concepts Design Competition

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace announce the 2015 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage, or RASC-AL, Aerospace Concepts competition. RASC-AL is a design project competition for university-level engineering students and faculty.

The 2015 RASC-AL contest challenges participants to design projects based on real NASA problems, responding to one of four themes: 
-- Earth-Independent Mars Pioneering Architecture
-- Earth-Independent Lunar Pioneering Architecture
-- Mars' Moons Prospector Mission
-- Large-Scale Mars Entry, Decent and Landing Pathfinder Mission

Concepts derived from the design projects could potentially be implemented by NASA.

Interested teams are encouraged to submit a notice of intent by Nov. 3, 2014, and teams must submit an abstract for their proposed project by Jan. 11, 2015. The RASC-AL Steering Committee of NASA and industry experts will evaluate the proposals and select as many as 11 undergraduate and five graduate teams to compete against each other at a forum in June 2015 in Florida.

The RASC-AL competition is open to full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in engineering or science at an accredited university. University design teams must include one faculty or industry advisor with a university affiliation and two or more undergraduate or graduate students. A group of universities may also collaborate on a design project entry. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

For more information about this competition, visit

If you have questions about this competition, please contact Stacy Dees at or Shelley Spears at


NASA CubeSat Space Missions

NASA has opened the next round of its CubeSat Launch Initiative, part of the White House Maker Initiative, in an effort to engage the growing community of space enthusiasts that can contribute to NASA's space exploration goals.

The CubeSat Launch Initiative gives students, teachers and faculty a chance to get hands-on flight hardware development experience in the process of designing, building and operating small research satellites. It also provides a low-cost pathway to space for research in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations consistent with NASA's Strategic Plan.

Applicants must submit their proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 25, 2014. NASA will select the payloads by Feb. 6, 2015, but selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. Selected experiments are slated to be flown as auxiliary payloads on agency rocket launches or to be deployed from the International Space Station beginning in 2015 and running through 2018. NASA does not provide funding for the development of the small satellites, and this opportunity is open only to U.S. nonprofit organizations and accredited educational organizations.

One goal of the CubeSat Launch Initiative is to extend the successes of space exploration to all 50 states by launching a small satellite from at least one participant in each state in the next five years. During this round, NASA is particularly focused on gaining participation in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 21 states not previously selected for the CubeSat Launch Initiative. These states are: Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

CubeSats are in a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The base CubeSat dimensions are about 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches (10 centimeters by 10 centimeters by 11 centimeters), which equals one "cube," or 1U. CubeSats supported by this launch effort include volumes of 1U, 2U, 3U and 6U. CubeSats of 1U, 2U and 3U size typically have a mass of about three pounds (1.33 kilograms) per 1U Cube. A 6U CubeSat typically has a mass of about 26.5 pounds (12 kilograms). The CubeSat's final mass depends on which deployment method is selected.

To date, NASA has selected 114 CubeSats from 29 states, 17 of which have already been launched. Nine more CubeSats are scheduled to go into space in the next 12 months.

For additional information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative program, visit

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to Jason Crusan at

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