Giving Back to the Community

The members of the Dartmouth AIAA Student Branch are committed to sharing the same passion for math, science, and space exploration that inspired us with elementary and middle school kids in New Hampshire and Vermont.


Program Description

Our club intends to provide all student, not just scientists and engineers, with the chance to share their excitement about science, engineering, and spaceflight with the budding scientists in the elementary and middle schools of the Upper Valley. Our outreach program’s goal will be to inspire passion for sciences in the young students of the Upper Valley, and to reinforce the concepts they are studying in school. 

Fortunately, Nancy Serrell, Director of Dartmouth Outreach office, has been helping us contact these local schools, as well as organize after school activities for the kids there.  We have also spoken with other undergraduate and graduate students on campus who are interested in creating a science outreach program.  This winter, our club will team up with Sara Walker, a theoretical physics graduate student, to create a comprehensive after school outreach program.  Sara has a lot of experience coordinating outreach programs from previous research she did for NASA.  She has also worked previously with the Outreach Office on science-related activities.  As part of our enrichment program, we will visit middle schools with PhysicsQuest kits – free kits that contain fun physical science experiments that can be done in small groups (for more information, visit http://www.physicscentral.org/experiment/physicsquest/).  Students can submit their answers to the four questions and earn prizes online.

The results of our microgravity experiment will help jumpstart our informal science education outreach program and will give us lots of material to work with for next year’s presentations and after school programs. Our experiment relates to what many students are already studying in class, as the New Hampshire Science Curriculum requires that students from grades 5-8 learn about topics such as mass, weight, forces of motion, and gravitation. Section S:PS3:6:1.2 of this curriculum states that students grades 7-8 must be exposed to the idea that  “…the force of gravity gets stronger the closer one gets to an object and decreases the further away one gets from it." They are also exposed to general concepts of gravity (S:PS3:8:1.2). Furthermore, students in grades 5-6 are taught the difference between weight and mass (S:PS1:6:2.3), and also exposed to ideas about force and motion. As our experiment deals closely with concepts of gravity, forces of motion, and mass and weight, it would nicely complement the current curriculum of the local students. We would use video from our experiment to provide creative insight into objects behave in the absence of gravitational force, as well as explain the science behind how our centrifuge and mixing devices work.  Please see our sample lesson plan included in this report for more information about our planned lectures and demonstrations.

We have already cemented plans to visit students from Lebanon Elementary School to talk about forces of motion and matter, two science topics they are required to learn about (see the attached letter).  In addition to Lebanon elementary school, our team plans to visit schools in Claremont, NH, North Haverhill, NH, Windsor, VT, and Thetford, VT.  Many student groups already visit schools in Hanover and Lebanon because they are so close, while schools like Claremont and Windsor receive less attention. Haverhill Cooperative Middle School recently underwent a severe upheaval when the school building’s roof was found to be dangerously faulty. As the students now lack a main building and resources to utilize, our outreach program would especially benefit them.

Another great aspect of our upcoming program is our close ties to Dartmouth’s Women in Science Program.  At Dartmouth, WISP gives female freshman and sophomore undergraduates a change to work with a science or engineering professor to encourage their interest and involvement in the field.  One of our team members, Julianna Scheiman, is actively involved in the WISP program.  With her help, we will design a program that emphasizes keeping female students interested in science by showing the vast opportunities available to them in today’s world of science.

We are also fortunate to have Dr. Jay C. Buckey, Jr., as an advisor.  Dr. Buckey flew aboard the 16 day Neurolab mission (STS-90) and is an expert in the field of spaceflight medicine.  He is also a very skilled speaker and often speaks to New Hampshire public schools about space exploration and the Neurolab mission.  With his guidance, our team can fuel the same enthusiasm for human spaceflight, science and engineering, and problem solving in the minds of local students – the same enthusiasm that inspired our team to design and submit our most recent microgravity research proposal.


How Your School Can Sign up

Please visit our contact page and send us an email if you have any questions about our program.


Coming Soon to this page...

A calendar of events, list of schools involved with a link to the dstrict websites, lesson plans, other resources.