Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nine Neat NASA Resources for Teachers and Students

Almost every time I visit NASA's website I find something new and interesting to me. I just did a quick look through my archives and over the last few year I've written about NASA-related topics more than sixty times. Here are nine of those better NASA resources for teachers and students.

NASA's Lunar Electric Rover Simulator is a free iOS app that lets you explore the moon. The app is really a game in which players perform tasks to support the activities of a lunar outpost. Players transport items from place to place and along the way encounter lunar challenges to overcome. The app also includes an interactive gallery of images. You can download the app for free from iTunes.

NASA 360 is a twenty-two episode series of videos about NASA. The episodes examine NASA's technological and scientific work. The episodes discuss how NASA's work is used not only in space exploration but also in elements of our modern everyday lives. The episodes can be downloaded from the NASA 360 page or viewed on Hulu.

NASA @ Home and City is a virtual tour of NASA-related science in our homes and cities. Students visiting NASA @ Home and City can rotate buildings and take a look inside to discover everyday items whose development has been influenced by technology developed at NASA. Each item within a building has a narrated explanation of how that items was influenced by NASA technology. For example, students can take a look inside the bathroom of a house to learn how cosmetics have been influenced by technology used at NASA.

Moonbase Alpha is an online game developed by NASA to be played on the Steam online gaming platform. Moonbase Alpha a simulation/ role playing game in which players assume the role of an astronaut working to repair equipment in order to restore oxygen delivery to a settlement on the moon. The game can be played by up to six players at a time who communicate using voice over communication. (To play Moonbase Alpha you do need to install the Steam gaming platform (it's free) on a Windows-based computer.)

NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information. The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

NASA's eClips videos are arranged by grade level; K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There is also a section labeled for the general public. The videos are short clips designed to show students the work NASA is doing and how that work impacts space science as well as its potential impact on everyday life. All of the videos can be viewed online or downloaded for use on your local computer.

 NASA Brain Bites is a series of videos designed to answer the questions the that kids typically have about the science of space travel and the "logistics" of daily life as an astronaut. Some the questions that are addressed include "what is the temperature of space?" and "how do you go to the bathroom in space?" All of the videos in the NASA Brain Bites collection can be viewed online or downloaded as QuickTime or Windows Media files.

NASA has an excellent interactive timeline tracing the history of astronomy and space exploration from the Greek philosophers through today. Planet Quest is actually three timelines combined into one. The three timelines cover technology, discovery, and culture as it relates to astronomy and space exploration. Each element on the timeline is narrated. Users can select individual elements on the timeline or choose autoplay to hear the narration of each item in sequence.

NASA TV streams many different feeds to the web. Viewers can see images from the International Space Station, educational content, mission control video, press conferences, and more. Today, through Tekzilla I learned that NASA TV can be viewed via a Windows desktop widget. Watch the episode of Tekzilla Daily embedded below to learn more about putting NASA TV on your desktop.