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Flying with Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors- Sept. 15, 2015


[ Music ] [ SOFIA taking off ]>>If you’re all listening
we’re going to open the door in about three minutes or so.>>I’d like to make a
right turn and climb to 4-1 or 4-3 if that’s possible. [ SOFIA turning ]>>Go ahead.>>I have point one
on boresight.>>Thank you.>>Observing.>>Some of the trepidation
initially was “oh my gosh are we going to be able to
stay up all evening?” My adrenaline is so
flowing right now that that has not been an issue. I am just as excited here,
what is it 2:30 in the morning? as I was at 7:30 in the evening. I certainly hope that I will
be able to take that excitement, that awe of what’s going on in
this 747 this evening and impart that to the students, whether
they be young students, whether they be adults,
and get them thinking about “what could I learn from the astronomy that’s
being done aboard this program?”>>Tonight we have
everything from learning about the FORCAST
instrument, how SOFIA works, what they’re imaging, what
they’re trying to learn about objects using infrared.>>I’ve learned about how hard
it is to plan a flight path, and all of the different
targets they have along that flight path. My students have such
a limited knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum. I want to show them that
there’s so much more that can be learned beyond
the visible light spectrum. [ Music ]>>We’re looking at massive star forming
regions in the direction of the Constellation Sagittarius,
looking toward the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.>>The protostars
and how they develop and the temperatures they
develop and what’s happening within those nebulae that
they’re developing within. Being able to see how they can
see through the dust clouds into those little nurseries of the protostars
has been fascinating.>>So one of the advantages
of using a grism is that you can just plunk the
element into a filter wheel. Right, so you can pop it out, put in an imaging filter and it functions
essentially the same way. If you’d like your students to
be involved they do have ways that you can actually
get involved with the general
investigators to have them work with you directly
with their data.>>I can see so many
different ways to take this back
into the classroom. Part of our job as teachers is
to take science from scientists and translate it so the general
public can understand it. My role, I guess, in addition
to regular classroom visits that I would be doing, is
developing planetarium lessons.>>…using SOFIA you can
see the central regions even if they’re bright….>>There’s specific content
connections that I can make with what we’re doing
onboard here on SOFIA such as learning about
stellar life cycles with new stars forming
in regions within space. But also just the
careers that are onboard. The different educational
backgrounds of all the people on board, the different
jobs they can have. They don’t all have to be
astronomers to have a part in this program in
an exciting career in which they’re
learning all the time.>>One of the biggest challenges for students with visual impairments and blindness is involvement into the STEM fields. And to get them excited, I think, is probably the most important thing that we can bring back.>>Science always needs
intelligent people. People that have a different
perspective who are going to think about a
problem differently, and just because they can’t see
doesn’t mean they can’t think about these problems and develop
something new or revolutionary.>>Translating astronomy, just visual astronomy
is challenging enough, and then translating infrared
astronomy adds an extra layer of difficulty. One of the things
that we’ve done just for this trip is we’ve actually
embossed the SOFIA aircraft complete with the
outline of the telescope, and it’s allowed our students
the opportunity to kind of feel what the plane is like,
and where the telescope is at in relationship
to the overall plane.>>Being a space history
museum, we have a lot of astronomy opportunities. SOFIA with the platform
it operates on offers an extremely
unique opportunity to take those persons who might
come to one of our star parties or might want to come to
one of our solar events to a far, far different level. We can take those participants
in our programs, rather than just “hey look through
this lens and see what you see”, “here’s what we were able to
accomplish and see once we were at 43,000 feet, and how
infrared astronomy works.”>>I remember being
taught this way. Okay open your book
to chapter whatever. The first kid reads
the first paragraph, the second kid reads the
second paragraph, the third kid, if they can, read
the third paragraph, and then it wasn’t
particular interesting.>>…and how to connect this with…>>If you can actually do something… Here’s some data
that was gathered. Here’s how you reduce it. Here’s how you use it. This is what it’s important for, and look at what
you get at the end. I think kids really enjoy real
things, and that’s what this is. That’s my favorite part.>>Those first two dots indicate that everything after it is a capital letter…>>Tonight we had Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” series.>>To have her onboard to encourage education, to encourage involvement, to encourage exploration just helps everyone out, it’s wonderful.>>…so this is all emission in the infrared portion of the spectrum…>>I was a child when “Star Trek” came on, and that sort of helped spur my interest in science, spur my interest in space.>>We share in common a passion for getting under-represented groups in STEM. That’s one of my biggest things, is getting women and minorities into STEM fields. And, so, she’s a wonderful ambassador for that, and I’m really proud to have flown with her tonight.>>She was- still is- just an amazing, lifelong learner.>>I just hope I’m as enthusiastic and a lifelong learner at 82. [ Laughter ] [ SOFIA landing ] [ Music ]

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