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UPDATE #39 - October 30, 1998

PART 1: Upcoming Chats
PART 2: Project News
PART 3: Learning about Canards and Actuators
PART 4: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


SPECIAL!! - Teacher Chat!!~*~
Wednesday, November 4, 1998, 4 PM Pacific Time: Susanne Ashby, curriculum
As the curriculum specialist on a multimedia team, Susanne designs and
writes the information found on CD-ROMs and creates the instructional
materials that go with the multimedia. The team that is made up of Susanne
(who is an educator), a computer programmer, a graphic artist,
a production assistant and recently, a writer. The team
develops content and interactive activities found on CD-ROMs.

Read Susanne Ashby's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration information at

Thursday, November 5, 1998, 11 AM Pacific Time: Anne Corwin, engineering
In addition to being an intern and a full time student, Anne assists the
staff of the 40x80- and 80x120-foot wind tunnels. Since July,
Anne has been working on a large-scale software development project.
Read Anne Corwin's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration information at

Tuesday, November 10, 1998, 11 AM Pacific Time: Gloria Yamauchi, aerospace

Gloria conducts research in rotor aerodynamics and acoustics. The
objectives of her work are to understand the flow environment of rotor
blades which, in turn, help her understand why rotors perform the way they
do and why they make so much noise. To study the rotor wake, she sometimes
runs large computer programs which simulate the air flow around the
Read Gloria Yamauchi's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration information at

Tuesday, November 17, 1998, 11 AM Pacific Time: Rich Coppenbarger,
aerospace engineer
 Rich develops systems (hardware and software) to assist air traffic
controllers in managing aircraft as they fly through the nation's
Read Rich Coppenbarger's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration information at


Help us advertise the wind tunnel test of the 1903 Wright Flyer!
For more info go to:

Collaborative Projects -

These projects are fun. Deb Regal shared - "As the students built we
continued discussion about the function of the various components of the
gliders and the forces at work in order to keep them in flight.  There
were several "what if..." and "I wonder if we changed..." comments that
warmed my constructivist heart.  They are thinking at a fairly
sophisticated level, and the rest of the collaborative activity should
allow for the opportunity to test their ideas.

The ELEMENTARY / MIDDLE SCHOOL - Right Flying (glider building) on-line
collaborative activity has begun.
If you haven't already send an email message to
listmanager@quest.arc.nasa.gov leave the subject blank and in the message
body write subscribe debate-aero

an "in-flight" movie" online collaborative project for grades
8-12 is now online.
To join the discussion list for this project send an email to Scott at
In your message include information about who you are and why you are
interested in participating.

HIGH SCHOOL / JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL - Wind tunnel building activities
will be online November 2, 1998.
To join the discussion list for this project send an email to
marc@quest.arc.nasa.gov In your message tell us who you are and why you
are interested.

For more information go to

[Editor's Note: Anne Corwin is and Intern Engineering Aide in the 40 x 80 and the 80 x 120 foot wind tunnels at NASA Ames Research Center. Read her bio at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/corwin.html ]


by Anne Corwin

October 29, 1998

Since July, I have been developing a wind tunnel test planning program in
FileMaker Pro-- a database application that allows you to create
a graphical interface powered from behind the scenes by instructions,
called "scripts". I am nearly done with the actual physical
construction of my database-- right now, I am testing it to see if it can
accept, store, and organize information in the way it was intended

Testing my program involves entering the data for an actual wind
tunnel test; in this case, I am using the test plan for the Wright Flyer
as the source of my information. The test plan contains the objectives of
the test ( Why is this model being tested? What are the primary
goals of the test? ), descriptions of the model and the materials of which
it was constructed, the dimensions of the model (wing span,
length, etc. ), and numerous other pieces of information that test
personnel will need to have access to in order to configure and run the

I must admit, entering test data is turning out to be more difficult than
it sounded. It's not just a matter of copying and pasting information
from one document to another--the information must first be reorganized,
and each portion of data must be placed into the appropriate

In order for me to be able to do this correctly, I must learn
EVERYTHING about the test, right down to the smallest piece of
technical jargon. If I don't know what something means, I'll have no idea
where to put it!

This task has been humbling at times...for instance, in going through the
test plan document, I kept encountering the word "canard". I had no idea
what one was, except for the fact that the word meant "duck" in French!
Being that it was unlikely that the Wright Flyer possessed a duck as part
of its hardware, I figured I'd better find out what "canard" really meant
in this context. It tuned out to be one of the smaller wings that is
attached to a bigger wing...something that helps stabilize and control the
direction of the airplane. Pretty basic, but not exactly common knowledge
to those who don't work in the aerospace industry (or, as one person from
my building put it, those that haven't spent their life building model
airplanes! ).

Another term with which I was unfamiliar was "actuator"--it
sounded like something that activates something else, but I
didn't want to make any assumptions. When I asked a co-worker about
actuators, I ended up being treated to a full, 10-minute
on model control and signal transmission complete with whiteboard
diagrams! That's one of the greatest things about working at NASA;
there are people everywhere with volumes and volumes of information
in their heads about anything I could possibly want to know about
what I'm working on.

Asking one simple question can allow you to learn ten
times more than you expected to learn.


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