The North Star  • Summer 1999

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Teachers Develop New History and Physics of Flight Curriculum

Seven teachers attending the 1998 Curriculum Development Workshop, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium and the Minnesota Department of Transporation, have designed an aeronautics-based science curriculum for grade 5-8. The History and Physics of Flight curriculum is designed to meet the National Goals 2000 and the Minnesota Graduation Standards. The curriculum is interdisciplinary and includes hands-on learning acitivities.

Teachers for this curriculum project comprised a diverse group of applicants representing different ethnic and educational backgrounds. Julie Doble brought her experience as a pilot and her enthusiasm for aviation into the science classroom, and was a speaker during the first day of the workshop. Mr. Ralph Winrich, of NASA John Glenn Research Center, contributed his expertise in research and his knowledge of what is currently being done in the field of science curricula to ensure that the curriculum is unique, up to date, and in line with the National Science Standards.

Internet access to the curriculum is available at


U of M Offers Parachute Short Course

The Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technical Committee, NASA/Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, and the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the U of M sponsored the 7th Parachute Systems Technology Short Course at the Radisson Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota October 26-30, 1998. Lecturers were Drs. Vance Behr and Dean Wolf of Sandia Labs, Dr. Karl-Frederick Doherr of the German DLR, Dr. William L. Garrard of the AEM Department, and Dr. Stephen Lingard of Martin-Baker in Great Britian. Forty six students participated in the course. There were 12 NASA participants (including one astronaut), 4 from the Navy, 2 from the Army and one from the Air Force. There was one student from the University of Alaska and 10 of the students were from industry and government. The remainder of the students came from the U.S. Aerospace Industry including Lockheed Martin, AlliantTech Systems, Pioneer Recovery Systems, and Irvin Industries. Student evaluations of the course were very positive.


Third Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium Held at University of St. Thomas

The third annual MnSGC sponsored undergraduate research symposium was held on the campus of the University of St. Thomas April 23, 1999 in the Murray-Herrick Campus Center. Student papers included Interferometric Measurements of Shock Waves in Air, by Matthew S. Lang and advisor Dr. Richard Peterson of Bethel College; Nonuniformity Arising from Pixelized Scene Projection and Detection, by Thomas J. McElmurry and advisors Dr. Brian Beecken and Dr. Thomas Greenlee of Bethel College. Poster sessions included a section on Does Gravity Affect Bacterial Molecular Physiology? by Robin Stanley and advisors Dr. MaryAnne Sullivan and Dr. Marty Johnston; Electron-Atom Scattering with advisor Dr. Marty Johnston and Spin Polarized MOT’s with advisor Dr. Paul Feng both of the University of St. Thomas. The talks and poster sessions were followed by a tour of the research labs.


Jet Propulsion Lab Highlights Pluto Mission

Richard Shope, Education and Public Outreach Coordinator of the Outer Planets/Solar Probe Project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA presented a workshop on educational outreach to students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota in March, 1998. Mr. Shope’s skill in presenting techical knowledge using dramatic techniques was very well received by his audience. His presentation, titled “Pluto: Ninth Planet or Not?” was skillfully structured to include audience participation. Shope also visited an urban Minneapolis community school site, establishing another partnership for the “Outer Planets/Inner City” program. Shope is part of the educational arm of the Outer Planets/Solar Probe multimission approach to Solar System exploration in which scientists and engineers are designing small, inexpensive, intelligent spacecraft, science instruments, and support systems to visit a variety of Solar System destinations. The Internet site for the curriculum is


Sverdrup Lecture Series Features Storms in Space

Dr. John W. Freeman, Professor of Space Physics and Astronomy at Rice University in Houston, Texas gave the annual Sverdrup Lecture presented at Augsburg College last April. Dr. Freeman has directed a number of satellite instrumentation projects including an experiment deployed on the moon by the Apollo 12, 14, and 15 astronauts. In 1972 he was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement for his work with the Apollo Program.

Dr. Freeman’s lecture focused on the violent storms that rage in space, high above the earth’s atmosphere. The only visible manifestation of these storms is the dramatic auroral displays familiar in our night skies. The storms may interfere with satellites and ground-based systems, such as electric power distribution grids. They are caused by large eruptions in the solar corona called mass ejections (CME). CMEs travel toward earth on the solar wind, distort and excite the earth’s magnetic field, and charge the earth’s magnetosphere with energized ions and electrons. The need to understand, model and even forecast the severity and occurrence of these storms has given rise to the new field of space weather.


New Affiliates Added to MnSGC

Southwest State University (SSU) in Marshall, Minnesota has been added to the MnSGC. Dr. Ken Murphy, Professor of Physics and Director of the Planetarium at Southwest State University, is in the process of raising funds for a new observatory. Dr. Murphy comes to SSU from the University of South Dakota in Brookings, SD. He spent the 1996-1997 academic year as a Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO where he collaborated in an asteroid photometry research program using the USAF’s 24” telescope.

SSU has a strong teacher education program and Dr. Murphy plans to develop course options for future science teachers integrating the new observatory telescope. He is also interested in K-12 outreach and teacher training. Numerous possibilities are available to classrooms in the southwest Minnesota area that involve remote operation of the observatory through the internet and sharing of CD images.

Additional Affiliate Members of the MnSGC include Boeing in Seattle, WA and Honeywell of Minnesota. Boeing has traditionally supported the academic program of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota through the office of University Relations. Honeywell, another industrial supporter, has specific programs in place that will enhance the K-16 outreach efforts of the MnSGC.


Space Science Across the Curriculum Conference to be held March 11, 2000

The next Space Science Across the Curriculum Conference will be held at the Science Museum of Minnesota on Saturday March 11, 2000. This conference uses highlights ways to integrate space science content into existing K-12 curriculum. Master teachers from around the state present ways that they have been successful in integrating space science content, developing curriculum, using NASA resources, and providing hands-on instruction. The National Science Standards and Minnesota Graduation Rule are included as a guide in each presentation. Each year, the MnSGC supports an astronaut as the keynote speaker. This year, Dr. Rick Shope, educational outreach coordinator from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA will also provide expertise in instructional models for integrating space science into the curriculum.

A call for presenters from the statewide teaching community is supported by the MnSGC. Please contact the MnSGC office for details, registration information, or application for presenting: (612) 626-9295, mail:


Space Science Conference 2000

The Space 2000 Conference will be held in Albuquerque, NM on February 28 - March 2, 2000. The scope of the Space 2000 Conference includes essentially all aspects of space. Topics vary from launch vehicles to colonies on the moon. The next conference will emphasize the education of college students in topics involving space. The URL for the Conference Webpage is:


BSU Goes to Africa

Dr. John O. Annexstad led a team of students that attended the annual meeting of the Meteoritical Society at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa in July. Deb Davis, Amy Funk, and Lyle Wallin presented their research project on cosmic spherule concentration in Minnesota glacial tills. The trip was co-sponsored by NASA and Team Industries of Bagley, MN.


Bethel College hosts Society of Physics Students

Dr. Paul Saulnier of Gustavus Adolphus College spoke at Bethel’s annual Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma honor society banguet in May. His talk was titled “Investigations in Light Scattering.” Thirty one students, faculty, and alumni were present. The talk was supported by the MnSGC and Bethel’s Physics Department.


MnSGC Program Highlights

  • Augsburg College - “Wired for Speed” is the name of a new collaboration with Dr. Bradley Blue and Reach for the Stars. Once a week for six weeks, students, families and staff come together to construct models of hot-air balloons, model rockets, bridges, electronic circuits and soap box derby race cars. The Augsburg Physics Department also has extensive research opportunities for undergraduates.See for more program information.
  • Bemidji State University - BSU offers a unique minor in Space Studies. Space exploration requires expertise in areas such as the social sciences, humanities, arts, history, business, law and recreation. The Space Studies program is therefore interdisciplinary and broadly based. It accommodates all majors and the basic science core is accessible to non-science majors. For more information see in the undergraduate studies catalogue under space studies.
  • Bethel College - Several Bethel students participated in research projects last year and presented their research to the Society of Physics Students annual conference. Life After Bethel, a symposium with Bethel physics alumni, featured students doing graduate work in physics and engineering at the U of M. See for details.
  • Carleton College - Dr. Cindy Blaha, Physics Department Chair, offers a special on-line section for Special Projects in Astrophysics for students. Listed are several projects designed for sophomores, juniors, and seniors interested in astronomical research and observation. Five faculty are named as participating. See for descriptions.
  • College of St. Catherine - Mary Wallraff and Wendy Christiansen are conducting research on solar radiation in the Visible and UV layers of the atmosphere.The UV information should give us a handle on ozone levels over Minnesota and the upper midwest. Mary and Wendy are collaborating with Dr. Gil Yanow at JPL in California. See the web page at
  • Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College - The FdL program continues to supply scholarships to students in general science and computer science majors. FdL collaborates with the U of M for technology teacher training. See the web site at
  • Macalester College - Dr. Karl Wirth has been involved in research in Puerto Rico during the summer of 1999. See the Macalester College website for details
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities -
    • The U of M - TC has been actively involved in creating educational outreach opportunities for all of the MnSGC Affiliate Members. In addition to coordinating the annual Space Science Conference at the Science Museum of MN (see page 2), the MnSGC Office has been involved in several program development initiatives involving the MN Rivers Council and the IT Program for Women. Additional Affiliate Members were recruited as part of the upgrade proposal that was submitted to NASA HQ in April (see page 2). The MnSGC website was substantially upgraded this summer to include a comprehensive list of resources for teachers and current links to the NASA Academy program.
    • Dr. Garrard attended the Paris Airshow in June. Dr. Quanbeck served on a national review panel for the U.S. Department of Education in Chicago in July involving a new grant program for science and technology. See the web site
  • University of St. Thomas - The undergraduate research program at UST is growing. The faculty actively involved in Space Grant related research is expanding to include member of three departments: Physics, Biology, and Geology. Research in Physics is focused primarily in atomic physics with work being done on electron/atom interactions, atom traps and the development of polarized electron technology. An interdisciplinary research effort to study the effects of gravity on cell growth has recently been initiated by the Departments of Biology and Physics. See UST's web page at


AEM Student Accepted to NASA Academy at Dryden

Abbey Eichman, a junior in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota, was selected to the summer 1999 NASA Academy at the NASA Dryden Research Center at Edwards Airforce Base in California. Abbey is working with Al Bowers on an analysis of the blended wing body aircraft.


Consortium Affiliates

Ken Erickson, Physics
Jeanine Gregoire, Science Education
Augsburg College
John Annexstad, Geology
Kris Cannon, Space Law
Bemidji State University
Tom Greenlee, Physics
Richard Peterson, Physics
Bethel College
Cindy Blaha, Physics
Carleton College
Terry Flower, Physics
College of St. Catherine
Glenn Langhorst, Physics
Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College
Michael Price, Science Education
Leech Lake Tribal College
Karl Wirth, Geology
Macalester College
Mark Hollabaugh, Physics
Julie Johnson, Physics
Normandale Community College
William L. Garrard, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Bruce Munson, Sea Grant
University of Minnesota-Duluth
Jack Brownstein, Geology
Paul Lane, Physics
University of St. Thomas
State-Governmental Affiliate
Gordon Hoff, Aviation Education
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation
William L. Garrard, UM-TC
John Annexstad, BSU
Ken Erickson, Augsburg College
Program Coordinator
Randi Quanbeck

Mailing address:

Minnesota Space Grant Consortium
Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
University of Minnesota
107 Akerman Hall
110 Union Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Publication of the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium

 Last modified on December 1, 1999
© 1999 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota