NASA has selected Sioux City Community Middle School in Sioux City, Iowa, to fly their experiment aboard the agency’s reduced gravity aircraft, the “Weightless Wonder,” a modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9.

The school was one of 20 NASA Explorer School (NES) teams selected for this unique experience, which will give teachers a feel of space as the aircraft carefully executes a series of parabolic maneuvers. To produce each parabola, the C-9 will make a steep climb followed by an equally steep dive, creating about 25 seconds of weightlessness.

The teachers and students will finish designing and building their proposed project to get it flight-ready. Once complete, Sioux City 6th grade science teachers Mitch Rorris, Julie Sweeney, and Anthony Gaul will travel to NASA’s aircraft facility at Ellington Field and the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Feb. 3 to prepare for their flight.

The Sioux City Middle School teachers will arrive at Ellington on Feb. 5 to prepare for their flight that same week. Following their flight, at 1:30 p.m. CST, on Feb. 7, the teachers will be able to share their experiences and immediate findings with their students and local media back at home via video conferencing technology through NASA’s Digital Learning Network.

The school was selected a NASA Explorer School in 2006, giving the school an opportunity to propose a reduced gravity experiment. The program, which now has 175 teams nationwide, allows schools and their communities to work with NASA in a three-year partnership to develop the nation’s future science, technology, engineering and mathematics work force.

Sioux City Middle’s experiment – “How does gravity affect convection?” – will explore the affects on microgravity on air convection currents. This experiment will see if hot and cold air density will be affected by the lack of gravity during the flight.. The team will issue a final report three months after the flight that analyzes the experiment’s effectiveness, scientific findings and what conclusions were drawn from those results.

With this program, NASA continues the Agency’s tradition of investing in the Nation’s education programs. It is directly tied the Agency’s major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations, and career ambitions of America’s young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in STEM education programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines critical to NASA’s future engineering, scientific and technical missions.

For more information on NASA Explorer Schools on the Internet, go to:

For more information on other NASA Reduced Gravity Programs, call Debbie Nguyen of NASA Johnson Space Center at 281-483-5111, or visit the Web at: