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Going On-Line with Live from the Stratosphere

What resources will be available on-line?

Participating in the project through a network or modem connection will bring you many unique experiences not otherwise available. You'll come to know the women and men who work aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory in a more intimate and personal way than possible through the video programs alone. Through Field Journals, the researchers and aircrew will share their daily experiences to help your students learn how a contemporary research team operates. Through "Discuss-LFS", an on-line conference or discussion group, you will be able to meet and interact with other teachers who share your goals of integrating Live from the Stratosphere into their curriculum. On-line you'll find suggestions about how to collect astronomical data locally; classes at different sites around the nation will then be encouraged to go on-line and share their results and learn from one another. The live Night Flight to the Stars will feature the results of one such on-line collaboration--a national "light pollution" map.

On-line you'll also find extensive information which would not fit into the printed Teacher's Guide or the videos for reasons of space or time. This supplemental information will include:

  • suggestions for additional hands-on classroom activities
  • a "virtual tour" of the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, and biographies of the people who work there.
  • an archive of photos in common graphic formats, showing astronomical images relating to the live observing flights and past KAO discoveries
  • pointers to some of the numerous other archives of excellent astronomical data, such as that of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope.

Resources available

  • For teachers with access to the World Wide Web (via a browser such as Netscape, Mosaic, or Lynx), the easiest way to get started is to visit the LFS homepage at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/lfs/lfsnew.html
  • For teachers with access to Gopher, go to quest.arc.nasa.gov for information.
  • Live from the Stratosphere is also accessible via simple e-mail. To receive regular project announcements, join the "updates-lfs" mail list by sending a mail message to: listmanager@quest.arc.nasa.gov In the message body, write: subscribe updates-lfs Within a few minutes, a message will be automatically returned which will provide an overview of the on-line materials available. Additional messages will continue to arrive (several times per week) until the interactive on-line component of Live from the Stratosphere ends in mid-November.

Field Journals: Throughout the life of the project, Field Journals or research logs will detail the day-to-day activities of various members of the team--astronomers, aircrew, ground support staff and others. In the past, students have found such journals extremely interesting and informative. Teachers have used Field Journals to motivate student interest in related science concepts, and have used them as models for students' own writing projects. These writings are available via e-mail (through the "updates-lfs" mail list) or can be accessed from an archive on Quest (via Gopher or Web) as described above.

Is it worth it?

Teachers who went on-line during past projects were enthusiastic about the unique potential of this new medium.

"I have watched my students become totally involved in the activities inspired by our on-line project...their excitement is evident in the quality of their art and their writing."

Sandi Mills, Elementary School teacher, Tukwila, Washington.

"My students learned that `science' is not something done just in a lab with beakers and tubes. That real science is everywhere in their everyday world. That scientists work in teams, no one scientist is the `expert.' Each person has their own fields of expertise. And that to accomplish anything, it takes team effort and team work."

Marilyn Kennedy Wall, Elementary School teacher, Bridgewater, Virginia

While Live from the Stratosphere has been designed to allow meaningful participation at many different levels of technology and expertise, there is no doubt that the on-line materials contribute a great deal of interactivity beyond that possible via the videos, and create a sense of active participation in the project. We very much encourage you to go on-line.

If you already use a network or modem, you'll find specific details on how to participate in LFS on this page. If you're new to telecomputing, Live from the Stratosphere will try to make your first on-line project easy but rewarding. You'll find some basic suggestions about how to get started on the next page.

Researcher Q & A: From October 5 through November 17, classes will be invited to send their own questions via e-mail to the KAO team, in an option known as Researcher Q & A. Individual responses for each question will be returned directly to the student who originally submitted the inquiry. All Question and Answer pairs will be archived on-line as a resource accessible to all, and searchable by keyword.

You'll find suggestions about how to organize student questions on-line.

On-line Collaborations: One or more on-line collaborative activities are planned in which students will collect and analyze data and then share their results with other students at remote sites over the Internet. During one designated period, teachers will direct students to count stars using specific procedures. (see activity 1E, page 22) The resulting reports will then be shared with other participating schools. Every class that submits an analysis will be recognized by name, on-line. The final activity will involve schools using each others' reports to discern trends and draw conclusions from geographically dispersed information. Throughout, schools will be encouraged to communicate with each other to clarify results and share ideas. Additional information about this activity will, of course, also be available on-line.

How to get started

If you're not currently using the Internet or other on-line services, here is how you can get started. Going on-line is not simple, but neither is it impossible. The essential resources you will need include:

  • a computer (almost any kind will do)
  • a modem (costing $50-$150 for 14.4 bps speed)
  • software (which often comes free with a modem or from the on-line access provider)
  • a phone line (this may be used for other activities like voice or fax when you're not using it for the modem)
  • a service provider (identifying the right service may be the hardest part)

Service providers come in many different guises and formats. At the low end, local Bulletin Board Systems may provide access only to information they themselves make available. In the mid range are services which provide some limited connection to the Internet. At a minimum, you'll need Internet e-mail to participate in Live from the Stratosphere. Other providers offer full Internet access with either a text-only or graphics interface.

Shopping for a Service Provider:

Consider these starting points

  • ask co-workers who are on-line about their service (they may be aware of special offers to educators in your area.)
  • call your district, county, and/or state education office
  • check with a local public university (most have connectivity and many provide dial-in access for educators)
  • consider a commercial provider, like AmericaOnLine, Compuserve or Prodigy; some provide introductory offers so you can try the service at no cost)

Of course, you'll find much more information about the LFS On-line materials on-line! There's little point in taking up space in this printed Guide to talk about materials you can only fully use once you've gone on-line. We think you and your students will find it worthwhile.

Our two on-line partners--NASA's K-12 Internet Initiative (via its Quest server) and NASA Spacelink are not in the business of providing access, but they do have numbers you can call in the event of technical trouble once you have the basic hardware and software as noted above.

Those numbers are:

NASA's K-12 Internet Initiative (Quest) (415) 604-1518

NASA Spacelink: (205) 961-1225

PBS ONLINE: send e-mail to www@pbs.org

Good luck. We hope to hear from you, via comments to "Discuss-LFS", e-mail, or your on-line evaluation at the conclusion of the project.

On-line Materials Without On-line Access

If you have no Internet access, but wish to sample the on-line materials supporting Live from the Stratosphere, contact: "Please Copy this Disk", B & R Samizdat Express, P. O. Box 161, West Roxbury, MA 02132. Evening phone: (617) 469-2269. For $10.00 per disk, Richard Seltzer (who also publishes a newsletter about on-line resources) will make a copy of LFS text and GIF files accessible via NASA's Quest server. (FYI, Live from Antarctica had around 7 text diskettes, and 19 graphics diskettes by the conclusion of the project.) An index allows you to order the sets of files most of interest to you, e.g. the Researcher Q&A, or just the Field Journals. There is no charge for 1st. class postage within the United States. The disks (MAC or DOS) may be copied for use by an entire school.


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