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APS: Studying the Human Physiological Limits of Exploring Mars

All web seminar participants use online tools that allow them to mark-up presenter's slides or share desktop applications in addition to engaging in chat with others online and answering poll questions This Web Seminar, developed in collaboration with the National Science Digital Library, took place on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. In this seminar, Dr Pawelczyk examined the effects of long-term travel on the human body in outer space.

Dr. Jim Pawelczyk, Associate Professor of Physiology, Kinesiology and Medicine at Pennsylvania State University has had extensive experience as an astronaut and researcher on the effects of microgravity on the human body. Missions to Mars would require humans to travel well beyond the current record of 15 months by a Russian astronaut, and doubling that length to nearly 30 months. Factors such as the environment, bone repair and growth, radiation, psychological stamina, and other influences play a critical role towards achieving this goal. Data from previous missions such as the International Space Station and Skylab have helped in determining how to address these challenges, but Pawelczyk points out the need to inspire today’s students to realize the solutions and possibilities of such travel since they will be our astronauts, engineers, and scientists of tomorrow.

Sixty-Five (65) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter, the NSDL moderator, and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Two participants attended from countries outside the United States: Mexico and South Korea.

Seminar participants received one of the NSTA SciGuides. A certificate of attendance was deposited into participants My PD Record and Certificates area in the NSTA Learning Center for completing the evaluation form at the end of the program.

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

  • “Details some of the problems with human space travel, long term.”

  • "Excellent and very relevant information! I can't wait to share this information with my students; they are the ones who will greatly impact the space program!”

  • “As Jim pointed out, the students of today are the astronauts and scientists and policy makers who make this vision a reality. This is a long term vision.”

  • “My favorite Earth Science unit to teach is the space unit.....this provided me with expert information to share with my class next year.”

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


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