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Students to learn what's hot at Earth Day celebration

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Students to learn what's hot at Earth Day celebration

Open house at Global Hydrology and Climate Center

April 22, 1999: Second-grade students will teach fifth-grade students in an unusual turnabout during Earth Day in Huntsville, Alabama.

"We're giving people an opportunity to see what researchers here at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center are doing through remote sensing with the Urban Heat Island studies," said Dr. Jim Arnold. Also, students can learn about "archaeology from space and other areas to understand the impact that humanity has had on the environment, and the controlling factors that the environment places on us." Dr. Arnold is manager of the Earth Sciences Office at the GHCC, a research center operated jointly by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, several Alabama universities, and the Universities Space Research Association in Huntsville.

Right: A unique space view of the GHCC and its neighbors, including the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, and two of the GHCC's academic partners, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A&M University. This view was captured by a 4x5 Linhof camera carried aboard the Space Shuttle. Links to a 300x445-pixel, 86K JPG. If you have the bandwidth, get the 825x1224-pixel, 519K JPG. Credit: NASA.

One of the GHCC's projects has been the Urban Heat Island project to understand the role of urban structures - buildings, parking lots, roads, and so on - in trapping sunlight and making cities hotter in the summer. Another project is educating school kids about the environment.

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The second-graders, from Jones Valley Elementary School in Huntsville, have been learning basics of Earth science from scientists at the GHCC, including Drs. Jeff Luvall and Dale Quatttrochi who have been leading the urban heat island studies. Working with Greg Cox of the GHCC, they have taught the second graders some of the basics of how to use a handheld "heat spy," an infrared viewer that shows temperatures of objects, and GPS satellite receivers that locate your position by satellite timing signals. The kids have used these lessons to match their temperature readings with visible light and thermal images of Huntsville taken by a NASA jet carrying the ATLAS sensor. Left: ATLAS imager aboard NASA's Lear 23 jet will take images of Atlanta like the ones here of a shopping mall in Huntsville, Ala. The thumbnail at left combines day (left) and night (right) images. Click here to get the 570x400-pixel, 217K GIF.Right: Inframetrics thermal infrared camera (145K image); shows how trees make a difference in the middle of a parking lot. The image at left was taken during the day, while at night (right half) the shadow of the tree is still visible. Click to get larger views.

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"The second graders are participating in GLOBE - the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program - and focusing on the use of remote sensing imagery to help them understand their local community," said Greg Cox, the GLOBE in Alabama coordinator at the GHCC, and an education specialist in the education programs office at NASA/Marshall.

On Earth Day, the second graders will teach fifth-grade students from Williams Middle School.

The lessons will include using a balloon to suspend an infrared camera and a still camera to give students an idea of how the familiar looks completely different when viewed from above.

Web Links
Global Hydrology and Climate Center, with stories on research in"heat island" effects, archaeology, lightning, global warming and other fascinating topics.
Students explore "ancient" site with aid of modern navigation, pictures
during Earth Day 1998.
GLOBE in Alabama - Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment.
The school activities will be held 9:30-11 a.m. on the lawn around the GHCC.

Open house will be held 1-3 p.m. so the public can meet some of the GHCC researchers and learn about their work. Poster presentations will include how archaeologists are using aerial and satellite images to learn about the past in a search for clues about what might happen in the future, discovering that lightning "likes land" by observing it from orbit, plunging into hurricanes to learn how they energize over the seas and then fade over land, and using lasers to measure winds in clear air.

The GHCC is located in Huntsville's Research Park West at 977 Explorer Boulevard. Drive. Visitors can reach it by turning south off U.S. 72 (University Drive) at the Research Park West entrance, or by going west on Bradford Drive, then turning right on Explorer. If you get lost, use your GPS receiver to get to 34:43:55 N, 86:40:52 W.

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For more information, please contact:
Dr. John M. Horack , Director of Science Communications
Author: Dave Dooling
Curator: Bryan Walls
NASA Official: John M. Horack