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Preparing for the Journey to Space: Energy

Space Weather!
web seminar screen shot The first of two Web Seminars on NASA: Preparing for the Journey to Space: Energy was held on Thursday, April 20, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. Art Poland, astronomer at George Mason University. Among the participants were some teachers who had attended the face-to-face symposium at the NSTA National Conference in Science Education in Anaheim, CA.

The session started with a general overview of the NSTA Web Seminar tools and how they can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenter. Thirty-five participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Two participants joined the group from Canada.

web semianr screen shot

Dr. Poland talked about the Sun, its parts, and how it generates energy in its core. He also elaborated on the Sun's behavior during solar minimum and solar maximum. He described solar flares, prominences, and the way the SOHO spacecraft is used to help scientists forecast space weather. In order for humans spend more time living in space, he explained, researchers need to learn more about the Sun and solar storms. Radiation, for example, can be damaging to humans living in space. Astronauts living in the International Space Station are briefed when the Sun experiences storms. Spacewalks are scheduled carefully to avoid exposing astronauts to these events.

Dr. Poland also talked about the different types of orbits-low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit-and how space weather can affect satellites at these locations. He also showed images of the Sun taken by SOHO and of galaxy clusters taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Throughout the presentation there were several opportunities for the participants to interact with each other and with the presenter by answering poll questions, chatting, stamping, and marking.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "I teach high school science classes and also sponsor a high school & an elementary astronomy club. This has been an invaluable resource for me with these clubs! This answered the type of questions that kids ask!"
  • "I teach a unique program to at-risk students that travel to the Naval Base for 5 separate visits. We spend a small part of the time on Astronomy, which was not a strong concept for me. I am using these seminars for a more comprehensive understanding."
  • "Web seminars are fantastic. The number of relevant topics that are covered is amazing."
  • "It was great to have a chance to improve my knowledge of space without traveling a long distance (about 2 hours at least). The presenter was great."

Thanks to the participants and Art for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!

Web Seminar I Resources


See a recorded version of the Web Seminar.


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