Microgravity University for Educators and Resources for Your Classroom

Most have seen the pictures and videos, but few have felt the apparent weightlessness one feels while experiencing microgravity in space.  What is microgravity? Why are we as humans so fascinated by it?  One could answer those questions with two F’s…Free-fall and Fun!

Many of us have experienced brief periods of microgravity while sky-diving, bungee-jumping, or riding roller coasters, because those activities consist of limited periods of free-fall, setting the conditions for microgravity.  Which roller coaster is your favorite, either now or when you were younger?  As you reflect on your own experiences, think about how this question could open up your students to talk about their own experiences and help them connect STEM with relevant/authentic situations in their lives.

Do you struggle to find authentic lessons or activities to help your students construct a proficient understanding of free-fall and the microgravity environment or the phenomena we witness while watching cool NASA videos?  Keep reading for resources and opportunities for teachers like you!


Calling All Teachers!

How would you like to spend a week at Johnson Space Center’s Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (expenses paid!) while you:

  • Test your students’ designs using NASA’s simulated microgravity environments
  • Earn Professional Development hours
  • Incorporate current NASA programs into your classroom

Tune in to an online information session that includes tips from the Microgravity University for Educators Coordinators and subject matter experts.  Go to http://go.nasa.gov/2dnif16 to attend one of these sessions:

  • Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm Central
  • Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm Central
  • Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 7:00 pm Central

Microgravity University for Educators (MgUE) is looking for K-12 teachers to work with their students to design, build, and test a satellite deployment tool.  The overall experience includes online professional development, hands-on engineering, test operations on NASA Johnson Space Center’s Precision Air Bearing Floor, located in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility –Where the Astronauts train! —and public outreach.  Interested teachers start by forming a team within their school, district, or multiple districts and submitting a proposal at http://go.nasa.gov/NASAMgUE.  Proposals due 12/1/16.  Please direct all questions to JSC-EPD@mail.nasa.gov.

“Practicing for Microgravity – Spacewalk Training NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff participates in an extravehicular activity training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.” (NASA, original image and caption found here)

In the following pictures, NASA Education staff are also seen practicing for microgravity environments on the Precision Air Bearing Floor (PABF) and the Partial Gravity Simulator (POGO).

To read more about Microgravity University for Educators and other NASA STEM Education and Accountability Projects, please visit the website here.


Right after your team submits a proposal for MgUE, you should visit the Microgravity Activities page found here for classroom activities like the following:

Mass vs. Weight (Grades 5-8)

Students watch astronauts provide mass vs. weight demonstrations aboard the International Space Station after they’ve completed the same investigations in the classroom.

Mass vs Weight video

Brandon Hargis
Johnson Space Center