Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Jul 20, 2005 10:00 pm
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While NASA Astronauts anxiously await their flight to space, 15 teachers had the zero-gravity experience of a lifetime

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (July 20, 2005) This past weekend, fifteen very lucky Florida science teachers experienced the thrill that only a few hundred astronauts have had — flying in zero-gravity. The selected teachers were participants on the inaugural flight of the ZERO-G Learning Lab. G-FORCE ONE, the only commercial aircraft to offer zero-gravity flights, took off at 8:30 am (ET) Sunday, July 17, and flew 19 parabolas, giving its passengers more than ten minutes of weightlessness during the flight.

“The ZERO-G Learning Lab makes science and learning not just fun and interesting, but exhilarating,” explains Gwendolyn Anello, ZERO-G’s Director of Educational Programs. “A teachers excitement will easily transfer to their students.”

The ZERO-G Learning Lab is the first program of its kind and a model program that Zero Gravity Corporation is taking nationally. “We developed this program for teachers throughout the country so they can bring the excitement of weightless flight and working in a space-like environment back down to their students and other teachers.”

Teachers conducted experiments developed as a result of a two-day workshop presented by NASA-KSC (Kennedy Space Center) Educator Resource Center and The Technological Research and Development Authority’s Endeavour Academy. The ZERO-G Education Programs office secured the funds to cover the teachers’ training, materials and the flight from The Endeavour Academy and Florida Space Grant Consortium. The Endeavour Academy also assisted with administrative aspects of the program.

Experiments conducted by the teachers were recorded by mounted video cameras in the aircraft and included: recording the weight of objects in lunar, Martian and zero gravity using small scales and weights; playing catch with a bowling ball, which demonstrated one of Newton’s basic laws; showing how a toy car on a track behaves in a reduced gravity environment; recording beads in a clear container as they went into zero gravity; juggling balls to show how differently things act in reduced gravity than within Earth’s gravitational pull.

“The Academy believes that these experiences light a fire in teachers, infusing their classroom instruction with excitement and igniting their students’ desire to learn.” said Michelle Peters, Director of the Endeavor Academy. “The Florida ZERO-G Experience for Teachers is like no other and The Endeavour Academy is proud to partner with ZERO-G to keep Florida students’ desire to learn flying high.”

Teachers also floated around in the aircraft, trying to catch floating candies and water droplets, sailed around small stuffed animals and paper airplanes to help demonstrate weightlessness, and performed flips, spins and “superman” maneuvers. Teachers will receive video and still photographs of their demonstrations taken aboard G-FORCE ONE, as well as the experiments and demonstration materials provided through the grants.

“The program is an excellent means of discovery through experience. The adventure of a weightless flight combined with simple experiments to explain scientific principles will provide a new strategy for classroom teaching that will make students enthusiastic to learn math and science,” said president of the Florida Association of Science Teachers’ Barbara Rapoza, after flying.

Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G®), a privately-held space entertainment and tourism company headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and operates the only aircraft of its kind approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct weightless flights for the public. The ZERO-G Educations Programs Office works with professional associations, agencies, school districts, not-for-profit organizations and educational partnerships to develop programs and secure funding for teachers and students to participate in professional development programs that include weightless flights. For more information visit www.nogravity.com.

The Endeavour Academy, a program of TRDA, is a unique teacher professional development organization that offers diverse, hands-on, content-based programs designed and delivered by experts in the subject areas being taught. The courses conform to state and national standards and utilize resources from the space program, high tech industry and research. The Academy receives funding from the US Department of Education, the State of Florida and through public and private grants. For more information, visit www.TheEndeavourAcademy.com.

The Florida Space Grant Consortium is a NASA-funded, voluntary association of public and private universities and colleges throughout the state that supports the expansion and diversification of Florida’s space industry by providing grants, scholarships and fellowships to students and educators from Florida’s public and private institutes of higher education. For more information, visit http://fsgc.engr.ucf.edu.

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