This past weekend, fifteen very lucky Florida science teachers experienced the thrill that only a few hundred astronauts have had -- flying in zero-gravity. The selected teachers were participants on the inaugural flight of the ZERO-G Learning Lab. G-FORCE ONE, the only commercial aircraft to offer zero-gravity flights, took off at 8:30 am (ET) Sunday, July 17, and flew 19 parabolas, giving its passengers more than ten minutes of weightlessness during the flight.
"The ZERO-G Learning Lab makes science and learning not just fun and interesting, but exhilarating," explains Gwendolyn Anello, ZERO-G's Director of Educational Programs. "A teachers excitement will easily transfer to their students."
Teachers floated around in the aircraft, trying to catch floating candies and water droplets, sailed around small stuffed animals and paper airplanes to help demonstrate weightlessness, and performed flips, spins and "superman" maneuvers. Teachers will receive video and still photographs of their demonstrations taken aboard G-FORCE ONE, as well as the experiments and demonstration materials provided through the grants.
"The Academy believes that these experiences light a fire in teachers, infusing their classroom instruction with excitement and igniting their students' desire to learn," said Michelle Peters, Director of the Endeavor Academy. "The Florida ZERO-G Experience for Teachers is like no other and The Endeavour Academy is proud to partner with ZERO-G to keep Florida students' desire to learn flying high."
"The program is an excellent means of discovery through experience. The adventure of a weightless flight combined with simple experiments to explain scientific principles will provide a new strategy for classroom teaching that will make students enthusiastic to learn math and science," said president of the Florida Association of Science Teachers' Barbara Rapoza, after flying.
Teachers conducted experiments developed as a result of a two-day workshop presented by NASA-KSC (Kennedy Space Center) Educator Resource Center and The Technological Research and Development Authority's Endeavour Academy. The ZERO-G Education Programs office secured the funds to cover the teachers' training, materials and the flight from The Endeavour Academy and Florida Space Grant Consortium.