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School program heads to outer space

An unique new program designed to help educators inspire student interest in technical or scientific careers opened at Florida's Kennedy Space Center this month.

An unique new program designed to help educators inspire student interest in technical or scientific careers opened at Florida's Kennedy Space Center this month, reports eSchool News reports.

The program, called Weightless Flights of Discovery, from Northrop Grumman Corp. includes hands-on science workshops and the opportunity to participate in a parabolic, or "zero-gravity," aircraft flight that creates temporary weightlessness, comparable to what humans would experience during space travel to the moon or Mars.

Teachers get pre-flight training by attending workshops in weightlessness and experiment design. They also learn how to relate zero-gravity experiments to science, engineering, technology and mathematics courses.

The flights include a variety of weightless environments including ones approximately typical of the moon and Mars. After the "weightless" period, which lasts approximately 30 seconds, the aircraft is gradually pulled out of the descent, reestablishing a more normal gravity environment inside the plane.

On the day of the flight, teachers conduct experiments aboard a specially modified, FAA-approved aircraft, G-FORCE ONE. They ten take their test results, in-flight records, and first-hand experiences back to school to share with their students.