Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson

April 13, 2010

April 13 should be a holiday, don’t you think?  Religious Freedom Day, or Public Education Day, or Self-evident Truths Day — something to honor Thomas Jefferson.

Catherine Sherman wonderfully explains why we should celebrate Jefferson’s birthday.  Go see.

Remembering Christa McAuliffe: Teacher talks with North Carolina school kids, from space

April 13, 2010

Sometimes progress is so strong that we forget to note the milestones.

I’m remembering Christa McAuliffe today.

Tomorrow, April 14, Mission Specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is scheduled to talk with students at Eastern Guilford High School in North Carolina, and all of the 71,000 students in Eastern Guilford School District.

Astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, former teacher - NASA photo

Caption from NASA: STS-131 Mission Specialist Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, poses for a photo prior to the start of an ingress/egress training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo Credit: NASA

Metcalf-Lindenburger is one of three teachers selected in 2004 as astronauts.  NASA is committed to help education out.  After the Challenger disaster, and the death of “teacher in space” Christa McAuliffe, NASA finally determined to make teachers into astronauts rather than fly “civilians.”

Bittersweet, but there it is.

Press release from NASA:

Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington

Jenna Maddix
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Haley Miller
Guilford Public Schools, Guilford, N.C.

April 12, 2010


Orbiting Space Shuttle Astronauts — Including Former Teacher — Call North Carolina Students

WASHINGTON — Astronauts orbiting 220 miles above Earth will speak with students in Gibsonville, N.C., on Wednesday, April 14. The call with the students and space shuttle Commander Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Clay Anderson will take place at 1:06 p.m. EDT at Eastern Guilford High School in Gibsonville.

Eastern Guilford High School is hosting students from Eastern Guilford Middle School, Gibsonville Elementary, McLeansville Elementary, Rankin Elementary and Sedalia Elementary for the downlink. The school also will broadcast the event to the entire Guilford County Schools district, which serves more than 71,000 students.

The astronauts launched Monday, April 5, aboard space shuttle Discovery from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the 13-day mission to the International Space Station, the crew will deliver science experiments and supplies; take three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station’s truss, or backbone; install a spare ammonia storage tank and return a used one; and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior.

Metcalf-Lindenburger is one of three teachers selected to fly as shuttle mission specialists in the 2004 Educator Astronaut Class. She operates the shuttle’s robotic arm. Without robotics, major accomplishments like building the station, repairing satellites in space and exploring other worlds would not be possible.

Students have been preparing for the downlink by conducting NASA engineering design challenges and implementing agency robotics resources and activities into K-12 classrooms. A science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, club was organized to increase participation and interest, particularly by female students.

The school’s guidance department also is collaborating with local universities to help students investigate and explore STEM opportunities beyond graduation. During follow up in-district workshops in April and May, a NASA Aerospace Education Services Program specialist will demonstrate how to access and use NASA resources in K-12 curricula.

Eastern Guilford High School employee Michael Woods, a former Aerospace Education Services Project specialist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is leading the downlink effort. In December 2009, NASA awarded Guilford County Schools a two-year grant of nearly $1 million to help middle and high school teachers develop science lessons using the space agency’s content.

The event is part of a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The in-orbit call is part of Teaching From Space, a NASA project that uses the unique environment of human spaceflight to promote learning opportunities and build partnerships with the kindergarten through 12th grade education community.

NASA Television will air video of the astronauts during the downlink. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:


Even Bob Park will pipe down for a day for this (though he’s right, you know).

EPA’s Earth Month Tip of the Day, April 13

April 13, 2010

One day doesn’t cut it anymore — there’s enough fouling of our planet to require an entire month of concern.  Some say that’s not enough.

Here’s EPA’s Tip of the Day for today, April 13, with information on how you can listen to EPA podcasts and subscribe to the Tip of the Day feature:

Tread lightly! Use public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike whenever possible to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs. Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. If you can work from home, you’ll reduce air pollution and traffic congestion – and save money.
Play the podcast (MP3, 788KB, runtime 0:47) | Reduce your carbon footprint.

Want more tips? Visit EPA’s Earth Day site to learn more about Earth Day, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and what you can do to help protect human health and the environment.  http://www.epa.gov/earthday/tips2.htm

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