Wiregrass math and science teachers meet moon rock scientist

Posted: Monday, 16 February 2009

DOTHAN—A recent trip to Space Center Houston gave a group of Wiregrass educators an out-of-this-world glimpse at moon rocks, meteorites and other extraterrestrial samples.

Sandy Armstrong, director of the Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium at Troy University’s Dothan Campus and Consortium teachers Sandy Sanders (a second grade teacher at Headland Primary School) and Diane Watson (a third grade teacher at Webb Elementary) were presenters at the annual International Space Exploration Educators’ Conference at Space Center Houston last week.

During the conference, they were given a rare opportunity to meet with Dr. Carlton C. Allen, curator of the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The office is responsible for managing NASA’s collection of extraterrestrial samples including Apollo moon rocks, Antarctic meteorites, solar wind particles and comet dust.

Armstrong said the group was given a personally guided tour of the facility and was taken to the closely controlled labs were the materials are stored.

“Dr. Allen is a world-renowned specialist in planetary geology,” Armstrong said. “He shared with [us] the latest 3-D images from the Mars reconnaissance mission which is currently discovering new information about our closest planet.”

Dr. Allen also shared his experiences searching for meteorites during several visits to Antarctica.

“Dr. Allen’s current research is split between studies of bacteria in extreme environments and the unique requirements of a Mars sample return mission,” Armstrong said.

The Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium is a joint venture of TROY’s Dothan Campus, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and partner school systems. Its goal is to increase student performance in math and science by providing professional development for K-12 teachers

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Three moon rocks are shown on display inside the moon lab in the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. Teachers with the Troy University’s Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium were given a tour of the facility last week. (TROY photo)

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Dr. Carlton C. Allen, curator of the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston points out 3-D pictures of Mars to elementary school teachers Sandy Sanders and Diane Watson. (TROY photo)