Teachernaut Plans TV Lessons From Aboard Shuttle
Next month, U.S. teachers may find themselves in the unusual position of urging children to watch more television, as the first teacher in space leads students on "The Ultimate Field Trip" aboard the space shuttle.
Sharon Christa McAuliffe, the Concord, N.H., high-school teacher slated to orbit the earth beginning Jan. 22, will teach two televised lessons from space—both beamed live by satellite to cable and public-television channels—on the mission's sixth day (now expected to be Monday Jan. 27).
In addition, she will be conducting daily experiments that, along with other aspects of the space flight, will be presented in special "Mission Watch" telecasts each day.
Most classrooms should be able to view the intended space lessons on local public-broadcasting stations.
Ms. McAuliffe's lesson plans, which include a grand tour of the shuttle and illustrations of the value of space research, were released last week by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in a ceremony at the National Education Association's headquarters here.
After being presented with a copy of the lesson plans, Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the nea, commented: "It isn't often that teachers tell students to close textbooks and turn on television sets."
Ms. McAuliffe is a former president of the Bow (N.H.) Education Association, an N.E.A. affiliate.
'Flight Day 6'
William Nixon, coordinator of the Teacher in Space Program for NASA, said the two lessons presented live from space on the mission's Flight Day 6 will be the centerpiece of an entire day of televised activities planned by NASA.
"The Ultimate Field Trip" was chosen by Ms. McAuliffe as the title of her first live space lesson, scheduled for 11:40 A.M. Eastern Standard Time and designed to give students a feel for what life is like aboard the shuttle.
In addition to familiarizing students with the spacecraft's computers and controls, she will review the mission's scientific experiments, explain the crew members' various roles, and show how space living differs from earth-bound routines.
The second lesson—"Where We've Been, Where We're Going, Why?"—is scheduled for 1:40 P.M. est and will be an examination of why we explore space. In it, Ms. McAuliffe will explain how technological advances have emerged from space research, demonstrate how the weightless space environment benefits manufacturing and research, and explore future possibilities in space travel.
With the aid of a 10-foot satellite dish, students or their schools will be able to receive the space transmissions directly, via the RCA satellite, Satcom F-2R, Transponder 13. Without the dish, they can view the telecasts by turning to the cable channel NASA-Select or the local Public Broadcasting Service station.
P.B.S. will offer the transmissions to all its local stations and will ask them to pre-empt regular programming to carry the lessons live.
Lesson plans, designed for multidisciplinary use for grades K through 12, will be available from NASA and local P.B.S. stations, according to Mr. Nixon.
Daily 'Mission Watch'
The "Mission Watch," moderated from Houston's Johnson Space Flight Center by Barbara Morgan, the Fresno, Calif., elementary-school teacher who is Ms. McAuliffe's back-up, will be broadcast daily at approximately noon est
During the telecasts, a few lucky students will be able to ask Ms. McAuliffe questions—probably, said Mr. Nixon, students from Concord (N.H.) High School and McCall Donnelly Elementary School in Fresno, Calif., home base for the two teachernauts.
The six daily experiments Ms. McAuliffe will conduct for "Mission Watch" will include:
• Magnetism: A look at how a compass, bar magnet, and electromagnet work in microgravity.
• Machines: A demonstration of how simple machines work in space.
• Effervescence: An examination of gravity's role in bubble formation.
• Hydroponics: A study of weightlessness and plant growth, focusing on plants grown in water.
• Newton's Laws: A look at how force, movement, and action and reaction are affected by the conditions of outer space.
• Expression: A chance for students to create art forms from their observations of life in space orbit.
Teaching Aids Available
Classroom Earth, a Spring Valley, Ill., group promoting direct satellite transmission to elementary and secondary schools, will provide information and materials to schools planning to use satellite-dish antennas, according to NASA.
In addition, NASA is printing 400,000 copies of the lesson plans, which will be available through the space agency, local P.B.S. stations, and several education groups.
Information about the PBA transmission can be obtained by contacting local P.B.S. stations or writing Elementary and Secondary Programs, Public Broadcasting Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024.
Vol. 5, Issue 15, Page 6