A NASA project called Aero Design Team Online is using the Internet to help students learn about airplane design.
Students and the general public can visit a website (http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/) to find out how aeronautical engineers use airplane models, wind tunnels, supercomputers, simulators and other tools during the airplane design cycle. The project continues through May, although plans are underway to extend it into the summer.
"We're teaching about airplane design through the lives of people who are doing the work," said Susan Lee of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. "For example, we're following a wind tunnel test of a model of a future supersonic airliner."
In addition, kids ask questions via e-mail; learn how an airplane flies; see pictures of aircraft; and participate in Internet chats with people from teams that design and test airplanes. During Internet chats, youngsters use computers to converse with mentors by typing questions and reading responses and dialogue via the World Wide Web.
Teachers can visit the teachers' "lounge" on the website. Various educational materials including aeronautics lesson plans are in the lounge. The plans list creative ways to bring the Aero Design Team Online project into the classroom. Educators also have Internet chats with other teachers, describing classroom problems and solutions.
"NASA is providing the website because the agency has a mandate to help teachers and students understand NASA research in aeronautics. The website gives knowledge to students that they can apply to their studies," said Ames Educational Group Leader Garth Hull.
"The Internet gives our engineers an effective tool to interact with audiences we normally would not reach. We hope by using this resource these students will be better prepared to see vocational opportunities and become better informed citizens," he added.
Another segment of the on-line project will follow the progress of astronauts training in the largest vertical motion simulator in the world, located at Ames, Lee said. "They are practicing their Shuttle landings with a new simulator program that includes global positioning."
The project is one in a suite of online offerings from NASA's Quest Project at URL http://quest.arc.nasa.gov. These interactive projects connect students with NASA employees to inspire them to pursue high-tech careers.
Materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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