NASA Explorer School Participates In Reduced Gravity Opportunity

ELIZABETH—Elizabeth Public Schools’ Dr. Albert Einstein Academy School No. 29 is among 24 other schools from around the United States to be designated as a NASA Explorer School. The NES is a three-year partnership with NASA for students in grades 4-9, selected team members and an administrator to promote mathematics, sciences and technology through educational activities and special learning opportunities.

Through this partnership, the Dr. Albert Einstein Academy has been selected to participate in the NASA Explorer School Reduced Gravity Opportunity.  This opportunity provides a unique experience for NES students and teachers to propose, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity investigation of their choice over the course of four months. The overall experience includes scientific research, hands-on investigational design, test operations and educational/public outreach activities. NES investigations adhere to the same processes and procedures governing NASA research and test flights so that NES students and teachers gain insight into the workings of NASA.


The Dr. Albert Einstein Academy design team of teachers and students will evaluate the tool systems they have created on the NASA KC-135 Jet.  The jet provides a reduced gravity environment, similar to the environment of space flight. The reduced gravity environment is achieved by flying an aircraft through a series of parabolic maneuvers.

These maneuvers will be flown consecutively, in a roller coaster fashion. Each parabola provides about 30 seconds of hyper-gravity as the plane climbs to the top of the parabola. Once the jet starts to descend towards Earth, the plane experiences about 18 to 25 seconds of microgravity, an environment in which there is very little gravitational force.

During the flight, a designated flight team consisting of Dr. Albert Einstein Academy teachers will initiate and conduct the student-designed investigation at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Texas, and collect data on behalf of the students.  The flight team will converse with students at the school through video-conferencing on April 29.

The flight team will stay at the Johnson Space Flight Center from April 22 through May 2.  The teachers participating in this experience include Tracy Espiritu, John Mellody, Luis Bracamonte, Nicholas Carmazino, and Brenda Green.

Superintendent of Schools Pablo Muñoz said, “I am very proud of Dr. Albert Einstein Academy’s team members and students who are participating in this experience.  Our society is increasingly becoming more technologically advanced and this opportunity will equip them with state-of-the-art activities to promote learning in the fields of science, technology and mathematics.”

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