Watching Scott Kelly, and his ongoing work on the International Space Station for the past year has been like following a live-action science-and-technology class.
Many of the NASA-related activities in our school this past year (talking with an engineer at JPL, and the crew of a Mars mission simulation etc) have directly or indirectly addressed to the big question “What will it be like to live on Mars?” Astro-twins Scott and Mark Kelly, have become the human faces of astronomy, aerospace, and space exploration.
Students keep asking questions such as:
What kind of ‘work’ do engineers and astronauts do, besides floating around doing ‘space gardening’ and 3D mapping? Some amazing work is described here. We watched some incredible views taken by GoPro cameras aboard the ISS, including one involving inserting the GoPro into a water bubble.
On the fun side, I’ve even used Scott’s Time Magazine cover photo to teach a class on Photoshop (replacing Kelly with a 6th grade teacher who’s got a similar look.)
Here’s hoping we see more of Kelly brothers, and get to hear from Scott. Perhaps in a future Mars Day!
He should be back on earth tonight – NASA says touchdown is scheduled for 11:27 pm Eastern Time. As he put it in 140 characters before he left the ISS, “the journey isn’t over.”
Space could be fun (OK, except for dehydrated food) especially if they let you play a few games. All in the line of testing out how some materials behave in micro-gravity.
One of my colleagues lets students work on NASA projects, such as making a glider out of a shoe-box, or growing vegetables in space-like conditions. Her students are currently working on how ‘toys in space’ might perform.
So in this line of thinking, there’s Scott Kelly, who’s spending a year in space, playing ping-pong with a water droplet. If only he played against, say Sergey Volkov or Timothy Peake (UK). That would make it a more realistic international playoff.
For my Photoshop class last week I tried to bring home to my 6th graders the importance of scrutinizing the media they consume – whether it is a billboard, a news photo in a newspaper, an album cover, celebrity photos, a food label etc.
This is the exercise: Could you put a teacher’s face on the cover of TIME? This recent cover is of one of the twin astronauts, Scott Kelly, (whose brother, Mark is married to former Arizona congresswoman, Gabby Giffords) will be part of a one-year NASA study which I am following.
The local connection and space angle makes it a fascinating topic that will stay relevant until this time next year. The teacher in question is very supportive of this.
This week too, the 6th graders continue to work on their covers. For more details, and to track their progress, check in here…
Since I write mostly about technology issues, I was struck by this description of how the body as a machine works.
The human body is a purpose-built machine, designed for the one-G environment of Earth. Take us into the zero-G of space or the 0.38 G of Mars and it all comes unsprung. Bones get brittle, eyeballs lose their shape, hearts beat less efficiently since they no longer have to pump against gravity, and balance goes awry.
Jeffrey Kluger, in TIME – story about Mark and Scott Kelley. The latter astronaut will spend one year on the International Space Station.
We take gravity so much for granted, don’t we?