The last great adventure of my Einstein Educator Fellowship occurred on Thursday, July 18th. Sam Wheeler and I, part of the Flying Einsteins team, flew on the G-Force One Boeing 727 plane. This flight made thirty two parabolas, thirty of them simulating zero gravity and hyper-gravity (1.8 g), the last two parabolas simulated Lunar and Mars gravities. The previous day, Denise Thompson and Joe Issac flew on the same plane completing the team. Sam and I had the pleasure to fly with Dave Miller, our NASA mentor and engineer, who advised us along the process since the beginning of February on how to make our experiment safer and ready for flying. Thank you Dave, you’re a cool guy! We were part of the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP)
; there were experiments from twenty different schools and twenty-two colleges and universities. Among the universities was UTEP from El Paso, Texas, congrats Miners! Although my loyalties are with NMSU, I can’t help but to be extremely proud of such an accomplishment. I hope I can get you to talk to my students at Zia Middle School. My students would be very impressed. It is befitting that NASA selected me for this fellowship and I finished it with this RGEFP, which is ran by the Teaching from Space, a NASA Education Office from Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This experience not only brings to the fore the importance of data collection, analysis and communication but more importantly the relevance of imagination, cooperation and courage. Not so much the courage of participating in a crazy ride, but the courage of reviewing assumptions and accepting criticism to make our experiment stronger and we, better scientists, teachers and ultimately better people. That’s humbleness. I can’t wait to get back to my classroom and convey this renew enthusiasm to my students. It has also been an incredible ride since the RGEFP bespeaks not to the individual endeavor, but to the social enterprise needed to advance science and to the key feature of science, its tentativeness.
My fellowship, and this last great adventure, cannot have been possible without the unwavering support of my wife Sherrie, the inspiration of my kids, Triangle Coalition staff, and at Goddard, Dr. Robert Gabrys, Office of Education Director, Carmel Conaty, and Lynne Branch-Foster, at Headquarters, Mary Sladek and Leland Melvin. Of course, there are many people I’m omitting here, but I don’t want to make a litany of names and still forget some. I am grateful to all of you and rest assure that I take back to the classroom and my district countless inspirational lessons, lessons as only NASA’s mission and spirit can make possible.