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Students and educators nationwide will have the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and scientists through two newly developed NASA flight initiatives.

The programs, developed at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, are designed to give students and educators hands-on flight experiences using NASA sounding rockets and scientific balloons.

The Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students (WRATS) will provide high school participants with a technical flight experience to reinforce science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts. Teachers and students will participate in person or virtually in authentic, hands-on experiences based on NASA's sounding rocket engineering and science data collection. WRATS will include interactive Web based data to give students and educators lessons in physics and engineering. Teachers also receive resources to integrate the data into classroom lessons.

Selected participants in other NASA education projects will have the opportunity to attend a rocketry flight week June 19 - 24, at Wallops. Participants will learn about the dynamics of launch, safe flight operations and view a NASA Terrier-Orion sounding rocket liftoff on Thursday, June 23.

The Wallops Balloon Experience for Educators (WBEE) provides opportunities for high school teachers to fly experiments on scientific flights. WBEE will build upon an existing partnership between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium, which has developed student outreach programs, including the High Altitude Space Platform (HASP) and Louisiana Aerospace Catalyst Experiences for Students (LaACES).

Since 2002, the programs have flown multiple missions involving hundreds of students in undergraduate though post-graduate programs. WBEE will expand the LaACES platform into secondary education with a focus on core principles and future partnership with educators and their institutions.

WBEE will involve teams of selected educators who have participated in other NASA education projects. They will visit the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, for a week-long workshop in July. Participants will be involved in classroom and hands-on balloon science activities. The teams will have the opportunity to build and test their own science payload for a flight to the edge of space under the direction of NASA and Louisiana Space Consortium personnel.

The WBEE experience culminates with the launch of these payloads aboard a NASA scientific balloon. WBEE will be an intensive course involving a broad-based learning experience educators may implement at their home schools.

The Teaching From Space office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston is partnering with Wallops to provide the flights. The program continues NASA's investment in the nation's education programs by supporting the goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to future space exploration.

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