Optics at Marshall is keenly aware of the NASA mission to inform, inspire, and involve students. Scientists from Optics at Marshall are often requested by schools to give talks and present demonstrations on optics in both classrooms and teacher workshops. Many of the activities they have done have been collected into an Educators Guide entitled "Optics, Light Color and their Uses." This 82-page manual is available online through Spacelink or by requesting a copy from a NASA Educator Resource Center. The guide is included in the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) official classroom kit for teaching optics.
Make a kaleidoscope from a soda bottle!
Make Secret Messages
Tech Days Makes Science Fair Awards
There were approximately 120 projects in the Senior Division, 170 in the Middle Division and 30 in the Elementary Division. NASA & UAH contributed $350 (from Tech Days receipts) towards the awards and SPIE contributed $150, a free student membership and three gift bags containing various optical demonstrations and an SPIE T-shirt. The award recipients were selected by Dr. H. Philip Stahl and Dr. Richard Hoover (past SPIE President).
Awards were presented to:
Alexander Dillard, “Effects of Acoustic Pressure Disturbances on Refraction of Visible Light in Glass”, 11th Grade, Bradshaw High School. Showed that the angle of refraction for a beam of light passing through a glass slab could be modified via acoustic modulation. Application premises is that one could launch a gas cell into space and use acoustic pressure to turn the gas cell into an optical element.
Laura Scott, “Presence of Hydrogen in the Milky Way”, 11th Grade, Catholic High School. Obtained free time on a radio telescope in West Virginia under a student observing program and mapped the spectra of Hydrogen in the Milky Way as a function of angular position on the sky. Plotted the red-shift and blue-shift of a transition line frequency as a function of sky position and explained the results based on Earth’s position on a spiral arm of the Milky Way.
Shaina Smith, “How Do Fiber Optics Work?”, 11th Grade, Fairview High School. Built a circuit to amplitude modulate different colored LED’s using a radio and used light to transmit music through a fiber optic. Observed how efficiently the music was transmitted as a function of LED color. Show a plot illustrating how dispersion causes blue light to bounce inside a fiber more than red light.
Amy Eskridge, “Experimental Study of a Homemade Piezoelectric Water Droplet Generator”, 10th Grade, Covenant Christian Academy. Built a stroboscopic imaging system to measure the size and separation of a stream of water droplets modulated by a piezoelectric vibrator.
Joshua Kalin, “Bending Spacetime in My Garage. An Investigation of the Cavendish Experiment”, 11th Grade, Catholic High School. Performed a classic Cavendish experiment by observing the angular deflection of a laser beam spot. Discussed how spot size impacted measurement uncertainty.
Marilynn Thompson, “Power of Light”, 7th Grade, Good Hope Middle School. Connected a photocell to a DC motor and used a 60 Watt light bulb to drive a propeller attached to the motor. Counted revolutions per minute as a function of light bulb brand.
Elementary Division - (SPIE Gift Bags)
Christian Knapp, “You Gotta Have Light”, 5th Grade, Excalibur Christian School. Using color plastic wrap, demonstrated that plants grow at different rates in light of different color.
Samantha Willis, “The Glowing Light Bulb”, 5th Grade, Good Hope Elementary. Build a light bulb and explored how different sized wires glowed with different brightness. And, how some burnt-out real fast.
Other space optics education sites:
Local students to visit Marshall to help produce Earth-orbiting 'disco ball' satellite
Students from Ed White Middle School in Huntsville, Ala. visited the Marshall Space Flight Center to help produce some of the mirrors for Starshine 3, a satellite which will eventually resemble a high-tech disco ball and be placed into Earth orbit.
The sphere, which will be covered by hundreds of quarter-sized mirrors that will reflect sunlight to observers on the ground, will help students study the effect of solar activity on Earth's atmosphere. Ed White is among 500 schools worldwide whose students helped grind and polish mirrors for Starshine.
The local students watched experts at Marshall's Space Optics Manufacturing Technology Center coat and seal the total of 1,200 mirrors the students are contributing to the project. The mirrors were then shipped to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for installation on the satellite. Another 300 professionally polished mirrors from Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, brought the total up to 1,500 mirrors. This will improve the sunlight flash rate and make the satellite more visible at twilight as it orbits the Earth.
Set for launch Aug. 31, Starshine 3 was launched September 29, 2001 on
NASA's Kodiak Star mission out of the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska.
The unmanned launch vehicle for this mission was a Lockheed Martin Athena
I. Starshine 3 reentered the atmosphere and completed it's mission on
January 21, 2003 after 7434 revolutions around the earth . During that
time, participating students visually tracked the satellite and reported
their findings on the project's Web site. MSFC also coated 992 mirrors
for Starshine 4, which is awaiting a launch manifest.