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Education Newswire: May/June 1998

Talk (Advertising) is Cheap

Professional astronomers give public talks all the time, often to less-than-capacity audiences. But there are many ASP members willing to travel great distances to attend such events, given advance notice. The ASP will publicize these events on its website and periodic mailings. Just let the Society know the lecturer, topic, date, time, and location as soon as it is scheduled, and they will do the rest; send your announcements to webmaster {at} And when the lights go down, the house just might be packed with an enthusiastic audience.

Project ASTRO Adds Three Sites

If you live near Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Raritan Valley Community College in central New Jersey, or the University of Central Florida, you can become involved with one of the new Project ASTRO regional sites. This brings the number of sites in ASP’s national program to 9, including those in San Francisco, Chicago, Tucson, Seattle, Connecticut, and Southern New Mexico.

Kids Find Space

The “Kids In Space” or KIS project was started last summer by students in the NASA Academy at Goddard Space Flight Center. Grade-school children write essays about what they think of space and space exploration; their names are put on a plaque (or CD) and flown on the space shuttle; and the best essays will be collected into an anthology. The project is funded by NASA and is run through the NASA Academy Alumni Association. If enough students participate, their names will fly on the shuttle early next year. Any educators interested in involving their students should contact Julia Plummer at or the program at

A Unit on Units

The National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) has the thankless task of trying to change American culture. Consequently, NIST’s Metric Program offers an array of products designed to educate the public on the history and merits of the metric system. Several new publications are available, including

  • a colorful wall poster that which defines the metric base units and range of prefixes used to describe the magnitude of the base units;
  • a brochure entitled, “A Brief History of Measurement Systems”;
  • a brochure entitled, “The United States and the Metric System,” which has FAQs and answers, as well as metric conversions for the kitchen (including a metric recipe for chocolate chip cookies!);
  • a metric-style guide designed for journalists, teachers, and writers.

To obtain these useful resources, fax your request to the NIST Metric Program at 301.948.1416. Visit the Metric Program on the web at

NIST also reports that it has upgraded its web site, “The NIST Reference on Constants, Units, and Uncertainty,” which provides the definitive word on the International System of Units (the modern-day system of expressing scientific measurements), SI rules of style, conventions of use, and uncertainties. The site also provides the most precise values of the fundamental physical constants. To access this site, go to

Igniting Stars In The Classroom

Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory announces an intensive summer workshop in plasma physics and fusion energy for high school physics teachers, 20-31 July 1998. Participants will perform experiments that investigate the basic properties of plasmas, and operate and analyze data from an experimental plasma device designed to test innovative concepts for future fusion-based reactors. New plasma-based lesson plans, inquiry-based investigations, and demonstrations will be developed. Selection is limited to 12 participants and is highly competitive. Participants will receive a stipend of $600 and expenses for travel and housing, up to $1,000. Details and application forms are available on-line at Questions and requests for applications should be directed to Andrew Post-Zwicker at 609.243.2150 or

Undergraduate Research Conference

The Council on Undergraduate Research announces its 7th National Conference, to be held 25-27 June at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. The conference theme this year is “Creating Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Changing Communities.” For complete conference information, including program and registration details, go to or send email to

LEO P. CONNOLLY is a professor in the Department of Physics at California State University in San Bernardino. He attended the Project ASTRO workshop in June 1996 and started a partnership last September. His email address is