Montana students and teachers may soon join 11 other states
participating in a NASA educational program. Over the next year, they
may load biological samples that are delivered to the International
Space Station as part of an experiment led by the University of
California, Irvine.

News media are invited to attend a workshop for the education program.
Interviews will be available with U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana.
Representatives of NASA and the University of Montana and teachers
participating in the science workshop will be available to talk with

More than 430 students and teachers have sent samples to the Space
Station as part of the Enhanced Gaseous Nitrogen Dewar, a facility
that has flown structural biology experiments three times on the
Station. In workshops, students and teachers prepare, freeze and seal
biological solutions in small tubes. These remain frozen until the
Shuttle delivers the dewar, a thermos-like container, with the
enclosed samples to the Station. As the samples thaw, crystals form.
Later, the macromolecular crystals are returned to Earth where
scientists study their structures to learn about the biochemistry of
animals and plants.

Montana teachers from across the state will participate in a workshop
led by University of California, Irvine scientists at the Hellgate
Elementary Middle School in Missoula, Mont. Teachers will learn about
biology and chemistry research on the Space Station and be shown how
similar biological crystals can be grown in their classrooms. Before
the workshop’s conclusion, Burns will help researchers load samples to
be transported to the Space Station in April when Space Shuttle
Atlantis delivers the dewar experiment during the STS-110 mission.
This dewar will be filled with around 150 samples loaded by teachers
and students from Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia, and hundreds of samples
loaded by scientists including Dr. Alex McPherson, the lead scientist
from the University of California, Irvine. Samples to be loaded later
this year by Montana students and teachers are expected to be flown on
the Space Station in 2003.

The Enhanced Gaseous Nitrogen Dewar experiment and the student program
are sponsored by the Biotechnology Program at NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the Office of Biological and
Physical Research at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This event
is being supported by the University of Montana in Missoula and the
Montana Space Grant Consortium – a group of academia, business and
non-profit organizations working together to strengthen aerospace
research and education


U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana

NASA: Dr. Kathie Olsen, NASA chief scientist and acting associate
administrator for NASA’s Office of Biological and Physical Research

University of Montana: George Bailey, assistant to the vice president
of research and development Wes Snyder, professor of education and
director of the Office of International Programs Bill Hiscock,
director of Montana Space Grant Consortium

University of California, Irvine: Dr. Alexander (Alex) McPherson,
principal investigator for the experiment Greg Jenkins, director of
engineering and workshop leader

Feb. 20, 2002, 9 a.m. MST: Teacher workshop to be followed by an
afternoon press conference with Sen. Burns, NASA representatives and
other participants

Hellgate Elementary Middle School Library, 2385 Flynn Lane,
Missoula, Mont.

To attend:
News media interested in covering the event should contact Steve
Roy of the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034 or
Rita Munzenrider, University of Montana Media Relations at (406)