Six Will Work With Scientists Aboard Modified B747
NASA has selected six teachers to work with scientists aboard
the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) during
research flights in May and June. This is the first team of
educators selected to participate in SOFIA's Airborne Astronomy
SOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft fitted with a
100 inch (2.5 meter) diameter telescope. It analyzes infrared light
to study the formation of stars and planets; chemistry of
interstellar gases; composition of comets, asteroids and planets;
and supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies. Infrared
observations are optimal for studying low-temperature objects in
space such as the raw materials for star and planet formation and
for seeing through interstellar dust clouds that block light at
"Enabling educators to join SOFIA's scientific research and take
that experience back to their schools and communities is a unique
opportunity for NASA to enhance science and math education across
the country," said John Gagosian, SOFIA program executive at agency
headquarters in Washington. "More than 70 teachers flew on NASA's
previous flying observatory, the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, from
1991 through 1995, and that program had long-lasting, positive
effects on both the teachers and their students."
The six teachers selected for the SOFIA program submitted
applications that included plans for taking their training and
flight experience back to their classrooms. They are:
- Marita Beard, Branham High School, San Jose, CA.
- Mary Blessing, Herndon High School, Herndon, VA.
- Cris DeWolf, Chippewa Hills High School, Remus, MI.
- Kathleen Joanne Fredette, Desert Willow Intermediate School,
- Theresa Paulsen, Mellen School District, Mellen, WI.
- Margaret Piper, Lincoln Way High School, Frankfort, IL.
"We know teachers who participate in science research programs
return inspired, and their students' engagement with technical
subjects are measurably increased for many years afterward," said
Dana Backman, manager of SOFIA's education and outreach programs.
"Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors is an outstanding opportunity for
NASA to reach out to both new and veteran teachers of science,
technology, engineering and math to bring the excitement of real
science research into the classroom and the community at
NASA's international partners in developing and operating SOFIA,
the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the German SOFIA Institute
(DSI), will fly educators as well. The DLR and DSI plan to announce
their first two ambassadors later this month.
SOFIA is a joint program between NASA and DLR in Bonn, Germany.
The SOFIA program is managed at NASA's Dryden Flight Research
Center, Edwards, CA. The aircraft is based at the Dryden Aircraft
Operations Facility in Palmdale, CA. NASA's Ames Research Center in
Moffett Field, CA, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations
in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association in
Columbia, MD, and DSI in Stuttgart, Germany.