Volume: 02, Issue: 14 09/08/2004 
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Other Articles in This Issue:
Kick off the 2004-05 School Year with the Planetary Times
Genesis Space Capsule Slams into Desert Floor
Hurricane Frances Leaves Her Mark
Scientists Discover New Class of Extrasolar Planets
Cassini Unlocking Saturn’s Secrets

NASA Offers Science Competitions for Students

This fall, NASA is offering several competitions for students nationwide. Check out the contests below and help your students experience space in a whole new light.

NASA’s Hyper-G Contest
NASA invites high school students to participate in its nationwide Hyper-G science contest, which closes October 8, 2004. Teams of students will compete for the opportunity to conduct their own research using one of the agency's state-of-the-art, ground-based, hypergravity facilities, the International Space Station Test Bed Centrifuge at NASA's Ames Research Center (ARC) at Moffett Field, Calif. Hypergravity is levels of gravity above 1g, or greater than Earth's gravity.

Each student team begins the contest process with a letter of intent stating their idea for a scientific experiment. In the fall, the young explorers will provide a proposal describing the details of the team's research. NASA engineers and scientists will be available to advise students throughout the proposal development process and to provide feedback to teams after proposals are submitted.

The selected team and adult advisor will visit ARC to conduct their experiment and tour facilities. During their visit, students will have a unique opportunity to experience the real world application of science and engineering. Teachers will have the opportunity to guide their students through the scientific process, while learning about current hands-on methods in biology, physics and mathematics as they relate to NASA's Exploration Biology research.

For more information, call 650-604-1387 or visit http://lifesci.arc.nasa.gov .

NASA's Dropping in a Microgravity Environment Competition
DIME is a NASA competition program that allows teams to design and build a science experiment that will then be operated in a NASA microgravity drop tower facility. This program is a project-oriented activity that lasts one school year for the selected teams. Teams will be comprised of high-school-aged students from (for example) a science class, a group of classes, a science club, or a scout troop. A team must have an adult advisor, such as a teacher or parent.

Early in the school year, teams interested in competing will develop an experiment concept, prepare a proposal for an experiment, and submit the proposal to NASA. A NASA panel will evaluate all submitted proposals and select the four top-ranked proposals. These four teams will then continue their experiment development and fabrication leading to operation in the NASA drop tower in April. NASA will provide an expense-paid trip for five representatives of each selected team to attend DIME Drop Days in April at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

During DIME Drop Days, the team representatives will conduct their experiment in the NASA 2.2 Second Drop Tower, analyze their data, tour NASA facilities, and participate in workshops. The DIME program is open for high-school-aged student teams located in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Consult the following website for complete rules and more information: http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/DIME.html .

AVSTO’s Revolutionary Vehicles Competition
The Aerospace Vehicle Systems Technology Office (AVSTO) at the NASA Langley Research Center is conducting its second annual university competition for Revolutionary Vehicles: Concepts and Systems. Competition sponsors, including NASA Langley Research Center and Pratt & Whitney, hope to engage the university community in thinking about the future of air transportation in five vehicle sectors: Subsonic, Supersonic, Runway Independent, Unmanned, and Personal. All schools, departments, and disciplines can consider this competition a learning tool for their fall and spring semester classes.

Entries will be accepted in vehicle concepts, vehicle systems, or systems needed to support the vehicles on the ground or in the air. Students can propose futuristic vehicles of various types, shapes, configurations, propulsion, and fuel sources. Students are also encouraged to propose various types of systems—on the ground, in the air, or in the vehicle—that would make air travel safer, more affordable, and easier to accomplish. To learn more about this competition, access www.nasa.gov or e-mail e.b.ward@larc.nasa.gov.

Marshall Space Flight Center's Student Launch Initiative
The Student Launch Initiative (SLI) is open to high school and college students within a 50-mile radius of the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center, Huntsville, Ala. The contest focuses on the design, building, and testing of reusable rockets with associated scientific payloads. The SLI, now in its third year, is an educational program to motivate students toward careers in science, math, and engineering. This unique hands-on experience allows students to demonstrate proof-of-concept for their designs and gives previously abstract concepts tangibility.

At the high school level, several schools compete to construct the vehicle, which is designed to reach an altitude of one-mile above ground level (AGL). In addition to actual vehicle performance, schools are also evaluated on design and other criteria. Two local universities completed the first year of the program with one institution constructing a vehicle that reached two miles and the other providing the payload.

For more information, contact Beth Ingrum at beth.ingrum@msfc.nasa.gov or visit http://education.msfc.nasa.gov/docs/127.htm .

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