Robeson Community College students Kara Dale and Danny Dana served as interns at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., this past summer as part of Robeson Community College’s NASA Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award for the Integration of Research grant.
RCC received the grant in 2010 with the purpose of reforming and enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math curricula through the use of NASA-themed activities. Both students’ projects were in the area of technology. RCC Biology instructor Courtney Kilgore also interned and served as a faculty mentor.
Dale participated as an educational specialist within the NASA Digital Learning Network Project Office with NASA mentors Karen Ricks, project coordinator, and Caryn Long, manager. The Digital Learning Network makes it possible to reach students across the United States through the use of teleconference, web-conference and face-to-face modules. Dale presented various NASA-themed curriculum modules, such as “Planet Hopping,” which makes distance learning fun and exciting. Activities encourage students to stretch their minds to solve everyday problems, communicate more effectively and be responsible for their own active learning.
Kilgore also worked as an educational specialist and learned how to operate a working broadcasting studio. She presented two sessions of “Introduction to Robotics” via teleconference and four sessions of “Rockets to Racecars: Fluttering Fun” via face-to-face instruction. Both modules were developed within the Digital Learning Network and are available to educators on the website.
Kilgore observed a couple of virtual visits, during which a NASA professional discussed their careers with students across the country. During one, Jill Prince, an Aerospace engineer, teleconferenced to students in Virginia Beach and discussed her engineering career at NASA. Prince is responsible for landing capsules such as the Phoenix Lander and the twin Rovers “Curiosity” and “Spirit” on the surface of Mars.
Dana, who is also a Robeson Early College High School student, was selected for the internship in part based on his knowledge of C++ programming and his background in robotics from the Summer Ventures program at East Carolina University.
At Langley, Dana worked on a project to organize data sent from tri-lasers located on the Orion Capsule at the Johnson Space Center. Researchers at Langley were having a problem with the program that analyzes the laser data shutting down. Dana’s goal was to find a way to prevent this problem using the Labviews programming language. He developed a theoretical solution to the problem and plans are underway to create code to test his theory.
Interns toured the NASA Langley Research Center and the Wallops Flight Facility. At the LaRC, they toured the 8-foot high Temperature Wind Tunnel, the U.S. National Transonic Facility Pressurized Air/Cryogenic Wind Tunnel, and the Inflatable Lunar Habitat at the Structures and Materials Lab.
“This was a successful internship and I really enjoyed my tenure at Langley. I am excited about integrating NASA-themed curriculum into my STEM courses: Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Zoology,” Kilgore said.
This is the third year in which RCC students and faculty have interned at NASA centers.
Students interested in NASA internships can learn more at http://intern.nasa.gov/.
Dennis Watts is the Public Information officer at Robeson Community College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.