David E. Steitz September 21, 2000 Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: ) Allen Kenitzer Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: ) RELEASE: 00-117 NASA ENCOURAGES STUDENTS TO "BE THE SCIENTIST" South Dakota Indian Reservation High School Among First to Join NASA Team Through a unique educational initiative, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is encouraging students at more than 100 high schools across the country to become actively involved in gathering, post-processing and analyzing raw, real-time satellite data. For the past two years, NASA engineers have been introducing sophisticated new technology to the Red Cloud secondary school system on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This integrated science and technology program is making a positive difference in a rather remote region within the continental U.S. NASA historically has been an organization chartered with "providing for the maximum dissemination of information" about its work to the public. But this program, known as "You Be the Scientist," actually enables students to do what NASA does. "This program allows students to become actively involved with emerging technologies," said Michael Comberiate, program director at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Participants can develop marketable technology skills while they're having fun and learning about global science from the latest information." Until two years ago, a technology lab consisting of computers and satellite downlink equipment were non-existent in Pine Ridge. After receiving grant money, the school purchased equipment and NASA assisted the school by providing the logistics to set up the lab. "This is a technology push for Native American culture," Comberiate added. "The students will be working with state-of-the-art products." "What a great way to get young people directly involved in Earth Sciences," said Steve Dacey, a teacher at the Red Cloud School. "Without the funds to start these programs, many of these students may only see satellite imagery on TV instead of here in the classroom where they can study it in depth. It's real hands-on learning." The Red Cloud School was one of the first schools to use a NASA technology-booster grant for this new capability. They have gone from zero student computers to more than 100 and they have a computer lab dedicated to the NASA "You Be the Scientist" program, where all the students in secondary school can learn to post-process raw GOES satellite weather imagery data, observe weather systems, weather patterns, fires and a variety of other Earth phenomena. The "You be the Scientist" program is funded in part by Gateway, Inc., which is providing a Gateway server to quickly process the satellite information, share the data and bring it to the students' desktops. "Currently we are using this approach to set up routine, interactive links between selected schools across the country that are ready and able to work closely with NASA," Comberiate said. "With their help we can tailor our data sets to fit their needs." Today, for example, students from Red Cloud will participate in an interactive webcast as a virtual cultural exchange with Northwest High School in Germantown, Md. You Be the Scientist was initiated by Goddard as an educational outreach program to secondary schools and science centers across the U.S. The program uses emerging digital satellite technology to distribute satellite imagery data from NASA and NOAA spacecraft directly into schools. Teachers then may use the satellite data in science, environmental, technology, geography and social studies curricula. The program is funded by NASA's Earth Sciences Enterprise, a long-term coordinated research effort to study the Earth as a global system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment. This program in particular seeks to educate the next generation of resource users in how the global processes work together and how our resource usage affects our environment. For more information on the "You Be the Scientist program, check out: http://coolspace.gsfc.nasa.gov/ybts/ For more on NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, go to: http://www.earth.nasa.gov/ -end- ------------------ It's all very large.