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Twelve Students to get Science Lesson from Columbia Astronauts

December 7, 1990

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) _ Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia will take time from their extra-terrestrial duties Friday to give a science lesson to 11 students and do a little space agency public relations.

The project, dubbed Space Classroom by NASA, is designed to involve more students and teachers in shuttle science missions.

Members of the seven-man crew of Columbia, which went into orbit Sunday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., will talk to middle school students about the electromagnetic spectrum and its relationship to their astronomy mission.

After the lesson, the students will remain in a mission control room to participate in demonstrations and discussions of what they learned. Karen Widenhofer, a science teacher on temporary assignment with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will do the teaching on the ground.

The students will then ask questions of the orbiting crew.

The youngsters also will talk with scientists and control team members at Marshall Space Flight Center, tour its facilities and take part in other science sessions.

The space-to-earth astronomy school originally was scheduled for September but fuel leaks and telescope problems delayed the launch until this week.

The 11 students, chosen from schools across the Southeast, are Denny Elkins of Snellville, Ga.; Willie Carter of Memphis, Tenn.; Karen Scott of Nashville, Tenn.; Jennifer Marple of Brentwood, Tenn.; Bart Doran of Glen, Miss.; and Cindy Hughey of New Hope, Christopher Battle of New Market, Julie Rodman Athens, Paula Montgomery of Huntsville, Eric Sweatt of Birmingham, and Mario Trimble of Montgomery, Ala.

Columbia carries a $150 million Astro observatory intended to focus on about 240 high-energy objects in space, such as quasars, a supernova and a comet as Columbia orbits 218 miles above Earth. Prospects for using the observatory were dimmed by the loss Thursday of the only working computer terminal for operating the stargazing equipment.

In connection with the Space Classroom project, called ″Assignment: The Stars,″ NASA is offering teachers sets of materials for classroom use, including a guide for lesson plans and student activities on the electromagnetic spectrum and a slide presentation describing the Columbia mission and concepts on the electromagnetic spectrum and astronomy.

The 11 students, chosen because of their scientific aptitude, arrived at Marshall on Thursday and will go through various exercises before leaving Sunday.

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