Teachers soon will preview NASA cartoon character Robin Whirleybird, who
‘lives’ in a new children’s Internet storybook and will explain rotorcraft
to young children beginning next fall.

Rotorcraft are ‘runway independent aircraft,’ helicopters and tilt-rotor
airplanes, that get their lift and thrust from rotor blades. Educators will
learn about the web-based storybook in a presentation at the National
Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) national convention in San Diego,
Calif. on March 27-30. Teachers nationwide may see a preliminary version of
the web site at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/test/rotorcraft/

“The new web site tells about Robin Whirleybird, a young girl who visits a
NASA research center at which her mother works,” said Melissa Maradiegue,
manager of the Educator Resource Center at NASA Ames Research Center
located in California’s Silicon Valley. “This web site is a unique
classroom tool in the sense that, while the subject it discusses is
science-based, it uses an interactive story, strengthening language arts
and vocabulary skills.”

The web site and its read-aloud, on-line book target Kindergarten through
fourth grade students, classroom teachers, home-schoolers and people
interested in rotorcraft.

“The site is designed to engage and capture the interest of young children,
not only through the story itself, but also through the interactive
elements found on every page,” said Susanne Ashby. She is the site’s
conceptual designer, its co-author and member of the team at NASA Ames that
developed ‘Robin Whirleybird on her Rotorcraft Adventures.’

The web site includes a brief rotorcraft history, rotorcraft facts, photos
of rotorcraft types and what these aircraft are designed to do. The site
also involves the reader with Robin, the main character, in testing various
landing approaches for sound levels.

“Users are invited to explore using the buttons within the menu bar to
listen to the story being read aloud, and to learn lots of interesting
facts about rotorcraft,” said Ashby. “It is a tremendous resource for
learning about aeronautics, and NASA’s research in runway independent

Lesson plans will be on the web site in portable document format (PDF).
These lessons will feature hands-on science and technology activities that
correlate to national education standards for science, reading and language

The preliminary web site will move to its permanent URL —
http://rotored.arc.nasa.gov — after May 1. The site is slated to remain at
that URL for its public debut in September.

Members of the NASA Ames Educational Technology Team will describe the web
site to teachers during a session, ‘NASA Rotorcraft,’ slated for 9:30 a.m.
to 10:30 a.m. PST March 29 at the NSTA San Diego convention. Information
about the web site also will be available at a NASA booth throughout the
convention from March 27-30. More information about the NSTA and its San
Diego convention is on the Internet at: http://www.nsta.org/

The team designed and created the web site with funding from NASA’s
Rotorcraft Program, developers of the Rotorcraft Aircrew Systems Concepts
Airborne Laboratory (RASCAL) Project, a flying laboratory that tests new
rotorcraft equipment.