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Mesa teachers invited to NASA

Left to right: Team M.E.S.A.'s Mandy Heal, Kimberly Merlene, Matthew Berzins, Heather Haynie and Amber Amaya in the Space Integration Module at Kino Junior High School. (Tim Hacker/Mesa Public Schools)

Teachers from Kino Junior High, Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, and Hale, Mendoza and Porter Elementary schools travel to Johnson Space Center in Houston April 9-14 to perform orbital-insertion experiments.

Team M.E.S.A. members are: Hale Elementary School’s Mandy Heal, Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies’ Kimberly Merlene, Kino Junior High School’s Matthew Berzins, Mendoza Elementary School’s Heather Haynie and Porter Elementary School’s Amber Amaya.

The teachers will test a student-derived Satellite Launching Experimental Device on the Precision Air Bearing Floor (PABF) of the Space Vehicle Mock-Up Facility. The team was selected after submitting a proposal on behalf of their students. Only 12 teams from across the country will participate.

“Our objective was to create a device to launch a payload to Mars,” Team M.E.S.A. said. “We based our design on a slingshot. The slingshot is held by a pin, ready to be launched when the remote is triggered. The PABF functions like a massive air hockey table, which simulates a near weightless environment.”

During the activity, which is sponsored by NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators, the teachers will videoconference with their students. NASA Ustream will also livestream the event for public viewing.

“Our goal is to expose our students to the burgeoning field of space exploration and the understanding that they could play a crucial role in expanding the understanding of our universe,” Team M.E.S.A. said. “We hope to prepare our students with the tools necessary to compete for careers that have yet to be created.”

Learn more about NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators.

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