Drs. Laura Whitlock and Jim Lochner
Credit: Allen Litten, Daily News Record (Harrisonburg, VA, September 12, 1998)
This Fall, about 180 students in Virginia will start the new school year off with an out-of-this world X-ray astronomy project. Conceived by a partnership of middle school and high school teachers and research astrophysicists, the project is geared toward giving kids who are located far from a NASA research center a first-hand experience in groundbreaking astronomical work.
Laura Whitlock and Jim Lochner, from NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center's Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics and Universities Space Research Association, along with Bruce Hemp (Gordon Stewart Middle School), Gene Blackmer (Robert E. Lee High School) and Virginia Healy (Thomas Harrison Middle School) will guide Shenandoah Valley students through the analysis of archival data on 1700-377, a neutron star eclipsing X-ray binary. Teams of students will compete to predict the next eclipse of the system within the time frame September 25 to October 9. Students will also have the rare opportunity of analyzing an upcoming RXTE observation of 1700-377 scheduled for October 28, 1998 obtaining the data through the internet, and interacting with the scientists remotely.
By collaborating with classroom teachers to bring real X-ray astronomy data and analysis techniques directly to students, Whitlock and Lochner hope to ignite the scientific curiosity of the kids, and give them a feeling for how astronomers work, and how the universe works. Drs. Whitlock and Lochner are key players in an active Education and Public Outreach Group at NASA/GSFC which has developed the popular web-based learning tools Imagine the Universe and StarChild. In addition, Lochner oversees the RXTE Learning Center which highlights important RXTE discoveries at a level appropriate for students. For more information on this RXTE Educational Outreach project see Live from RXTE!
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