Thursday, July 19, 2012


I started today off with my usual breakfast of cereal and milk. I felt like that was a safe thing to eat before I would hopefully go on G Force 1. We arrived at Ellington Field and we found out that we would be riding G Force 1 for sure!!!

There were several things that we needed to do to prepare ourselves for the flight. These things included briefings, taking the medicine, and getting our barf bags. We had the flight attendant come and speak to us. He told us about the life jackets, oxygen masks, and what we should do if we get sick. We were also given 2 barf bags to put in our pockets. These bags were plastic so they had us blow air into them and place the opening at the top of our pocket. This would allow the bags to be ready at a moments notice. The next step was taking the medicine. The medicine was completely optional but they highly recommended them. We had the option of taking the medicine in pill or shot form. The doctor or candy man (he said we could call him that) told us that most people do not feel the symptoms as bad if they have the shot. The symptoms include fatigue, headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, and a few others. Before I came down here, I thought I would take the medicine in the pill form because I hate getting shots. After I heard this new information from the doctor, I decided to get the shot. The medicine was administered in different amounts depending on your weight. This made me feel better because I know with other medicines that I am given the adult amount I get the symptoms really bad. There were four different dosage options so I felt like everyone could get the amount that was right for their body. We received ear plugs and then loaded the plane around 9:00! I was extremely nervous to get the shot which helped to keep my mind off of the flight. The medicine was also helping me to relax.

We are leaving the building and about to go on G Force 1.

We are getting on the plane!!

Once we got on the plane, we sat in the seats that are in the back of the plane. They gave us mints for the ascend up and then the plane took off! We waited about 30 minutes before we reached the Gulf of Mexico. Once we got to the Gulf of Mexico, we were allowed to get out of our seats at set up our cameras, iTouch, and stop watch. We then got our lap or foot straps ready. We waited for the first parabola. We felt the plane ascending and then our bodies just lifted off of the floor! It was such a different sensation than I have ever felt before. My stomach felt like I was on a roller coaster but I was floating. It felt like I became a super hero who could fly. We got down to business on our research on the third parabola. We continued our research through parabola 27. We got a lot of data about the oscillations with the different film canisters. JoAnn was in charge of switching out and starting the oscillation. Maggie started the time and told us when to stop. I was in charge of counting the number of oscillations and recording them.

We got out our outreach items for parabola 28 through 32. I got out a little piece Nickelodeon Gak and it was floating!! I tried hitting it around and it stuck to my hand! For some reason, the Nickelodeon Gak got sticky. I also blew up a balloon and it blew out straight in front of me! My teammates brought a book to make "READ" posters. They also brought a parachute man, skittles, M&Ms, and a hovercraft. It was hard getting pictures of everything because the microgravity did not last very long and we both were floating around. It lasted up to 30 seconds each time. We did a total of 32 zero gravity parabolas. We then got to experience 4 parabolas in Lunar gravity and 4 parabolas in Martian gravity. So in total, we got to experience 40 parabolas!!! Usually they only do 30. It was my lucky day! During the Lunar and Martian gravity we tested the canisters labeled 1 and unknown. I also tried jumping during the Martian gravity. It was so weird to jump and float for a little bit before our feet hit the ground. 

For those of you wondering, I did NOT vomit! I started to feel really hungry towards the end and that is when I started to feel nauseous. I was extremely bummed when we had to go back to our seats because I knew that the experience was all done. I already wanted to go on the next flight with the other half of my group. I cannot wait to do these experiments with my students and show them these videos and pictures to get them excited to learn!

Originally, the next group (Veronica, Amber, and Jamie) were suppose to go in the afternoon but again the weather interfered. They are scheduled to fly Friday morning at 9:30! I cannot wait for them to go and hear what they thought of the experience.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I started the day off with little sleep because I had such a hard time falling a sleep last from being nervous and excited for the events to happen the next day. I had cereal and milk for breakfast today and I felt ready to go.

We arrived at Ellington Field and I went to a meeting that informed us of the game plan. I was told that the fliers for the day (Joann, Maggie, and I) had a debriefing meeting to go to at 8:05 and then they would start to board G Force 1 at 9:00. We took pictures of us in our flight suits while we waited for the meeting. We were all pumped to go and a little nervous. My team was excited in the fact that we had a PSTI patch that we could stick on our flight suits. We were sitting in a room waiting for the next person to talk to us about the medicine and how we should position ourselves in the plane during the different gravities. We had a gentlemen come in and gave us the news that we had great weather here in Houston but the area where we fly over the Gulf of Mexico has storms forming. He even informed us that they are routing other plans around this storm. They decided not to have us fly today for safety reasons. I have to admit it would not be fun to get on G Force 1 and not fly any parabolas. The new game plan is to have my group fly in the morning and the other part of the group will fly in the afternoon tomorrow. I am hoping I will get a better nights rest.

We were all bummed out for the rest of the day but we still went to Space Center Houston. We went to the Education Research Center and got some more information about what NASA has to offer for us and how they can help us get video/pictures from them! We also took a picture at the shuttle replica that is outside of Space Center Houston.

We also had a meeting explaining the different interns and co-ops that are available through NASA. We also connected through a Digital Learning Network (DLN) with engineers who are working in Hawaii. These engineers are working on the rovers and doing all of their tests at the base of volcanoes. The ash at the base of the volcanoes is very similar to lunar regolith (soil). These engineers control the rover from computers in a different area and they are taking into account the 2 second delay that they would have if the rover was on the moon. It was very exciting to hear about their research!!

To finish the day off, we have been working on a presentation that we have to give on Friday. We have decided to make a video of our experience for the presentation. We are working really hard but we are having a great time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


After a good nights rest, I started the day by doing the projectile launcher experiment. This helped me understand how this experiment works so I can teach my students how to do it. We then practiced what we were going to say for our Test Readiness Review (TRR).

For the TRR, we needed to explain the safety precautions that we took to make our experiments. We had to explain that the diaphragm holes are triple layered, the hacksaw blade has been wrapped in electrical tape, we padded the top edges and corners of our glove box. We also explained that everything in the glove box has been secured using Velcro. This doesn't sound very hard but it is terrifying! We needed to present this in front of 15-20 people and if they did not approve us we would not get to go on G Force 1 (the plane we get to ride)! The pressure was on and we saw this team interrogate the first team to go so we were very nervous. A few of us told each other that we were more nervous for this than going to fly on G Force 1. Luckily, it all went well and we succeeded! Our experiments got approved which means we can fly on G Force 1. During the TRR they also approved our outreach items. I will be taking the Nickelodeon Gak and the balloon for sure!

I am sure that some of you are wondering why I am referring to the Weightless Wonder as G Force 1 and we found out that there have been 3 different planes to fly parabolas and each plane has gotten a nickname. The Vomit Comet is sitting and mounted to the entrance and I am hoping to get a picture of it. The Weightless Wonder is the picture on the top and G Force 1 is on the bottom.

After the TRR, we weighed our glove box and then place it on the lift.

We ate lunch and then loaded our experiment onto the plane.

This is what G Force 1 looks like before all of the experiments are loaded on it. 

The all important barf bag and safety booklet for G Force 1!

My entire team with the first experiment loaded and ready to go for tomorrow!!!

To finish the day off, we signed papers to check out our flight suits and we got name tags to put on the flight suits. We also watched a video about what we can do to prevent ourselves from getting sick. This video told us not to move our head from side to side, to keep our head above our feet, and if we are feeling sick to either sit up or lay down. They also told us that the medicine that they offer is optional for us to take. We can either get it in a pill or shot form. The big question "What do you eat or do you eat before your flight?". The answer is yes we are suppose to eat about 2 hours before the flight and eat things that are easy on your stomach. They recommended not eating greasy food or drinking anything that is acidic. I have had people tell me that peanut butter and bananas taste the same when they go down and come up. My plan of attack for tomorrow is to each cereal and maybe a banana. That is everything that has happened today and as long as the weather cooperates I will be experiencing microgravity tomorrow!!!! I am very exited and I am not too worried about getting sick. It is mind over matter right now and I cannot let myself panic! Wish me luck on my amazing adventure tomorrow! G Force 1 here I come!


Sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday but I was exhausted. We had a lot of information thrown at us so let me share some of it with you.
To start off the day, we got our badges!! Apparently, when I flew from home to Houston I grew a whole foot. The back of one of my badges says I am 6'01"! I'm guessing this badge belonged to somebody else at one point but I still thought it was funny.

Next, we had go over the Aerospace Physiology Briefing. During this time they explained all of the different symptoms that we could experience during this flight and what they could be from. Some of the things that they mention include: hypoxia, hypoxic hypoxia, hyperventilation, trapped gas, sinus problems, gastrointestinal tract, teeth, vision, proprioceptive sense, and motion sickness. Hearing about all of things made me extremely nervous to go on the Weightless Wonder. They told us stories of how someone's filling in their tooth had an air bubble and the filling came off on the Weightless Wonder. This person had to deal with the pain until the flight was over. Yikes! Luckily, they told us how to prevent some of these and what to do if we started to feel any symptoms.

After hearing about all of the symptoms, we mad our way to Ellington Field to set up our experiments! The experiment that I will be doing on the Weightless Wonder is the Inertial Balance. In this experiment, we will be placing film canisters that have different weights in them and see how many times they oscillate (swing back and forth). We pull the hacksaw blade that is wrapped in red electrical tape back about 6 inches and let it go. We then count the oscillations for 15 seconds. One oscillation is when it swings from the starting point back to that point. We will be recording our data using a handy clipboard that we can strap onto our leg. There are nine different known weights and one unknown weight. I will be incharge of doing the canisters labeled 7, 8, 9, and unknown. We will have a camera placed inside of the glovebox so we can record the entire experiment. We are also using an Ipod Touch with the accelmeter to show our students that the gravity is changing. We ran through the experiment once today and we are feeling very comfortable with preforming this on the Weightless Wonder! My excitement is starting to over power my nervousness!

The other experiment that we are doing is the Projectile Launcher. This one will be flown on Thursday. In this one, we have two different size ball bearing that we will launch using a spring launcher and record the distance that the ball traveled vertically and horizontally. The launcher will be tested at 0 degrees and 30 degrees. The launcher will also be pulled to its full capability (we call this A) and half of its capability ( we call this position B). In this picture, you see my teammates Veronica and Amber. Veronica has her hand in the black glove shooting a ball bearing. Amber is watching to see where the ball bearings go and recording their data. 

We have met some of the other teams that are flying and we have seen what their experiments looks. There are a lot of neat experiments that are going to be flown and I cannot wait to hear about every ones results! Here is a list of everyone that will be flying on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The count down is definitely on. I am getting everything ready to go and packed up today. I thought I would post my outreach items so you know what they look like. The Nickelodeon Gak color is called "You Blue It". I was hoping to get the color called "Blast-Off Blue" but the store didn't have it.

The other item I am taking are balloons. Amy A. and her class gave me the idea to take balloons on the Weightless Wonder to see if I can blow one up. Thank you for the great idea! I am not 100% sure yet if I can take these on board but I have them just in case. I am thinking about taking a straw with me just in case I cannot take the balloons on board and blow a bubble in the Nickelodeon Gak. This way we can still see if it is possible to blow something up.

On Monday, we will be doing several things to get things rolling. We will be going through physio training, setting up the experiment, going through safety, and have a journalist/media briefing. We have a very busy first day but very exciting!! I am hoping to blog each day and post pictures so you can all be apart of this experience.

I appreciate all of the support that I am getting! Keep posting any comments or questions that you have!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Here is the news article that the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire News Bureau wrote about my up coming experience! The article is titled Media Memo: UW-Eau Claire grad to conduct experiments aboard NASA's 'Weightless Wonder'. The dates did get changed for the experience so I will not be getting to Houston until Sunday and I will be going on the Weightless Wonder on Wednesday!!! I am very excited but nervous at the same time!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hello! My name is Allison Stalker and I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in May. I am currently searching for my first teaching job. Along with graduating in May, I also found out that I was accepted to participate in NASA's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP). In July, I will have the opportunity to go on NASA's Weightless Wonder! Some of you might know the Weightless Wonder by another name such as the Vomit Comet. I will be blogging about my experience with this program before, during and after this exciting week.

The Weightless Wonder is an airplane that flies in parabolas (see picture below). As the airplane is ascending I will feel 1.8 g which they call dirty air. Once I reach the top of the parabola, I will feel zero-g or weightless. I will be free falling at this point and feel what the astronauts feel when they are on the International Space Station! As the plane descends, I will feel 1.8 g again. This pattern will be repeated 30 times. Each time I am at the top of the parabola, I will feel weightless for 15-25 seconds! I know some of you are thinking I am crazy for wanting to do this but this is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. While I am on the Weightless Wonder, I will be conducting an experiment to see the experiment in different in 1 g versus zero-g.

Some of you are probably wondering how I got accepted to be a part of this program. Last summer, I participated in NASA's Pre-Service Teacher Institute (PSTI) at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. In this program, they showed us everything that NASA has to offer to help teachers out. They have so many lesson plans, podcasts, activities, videos, etc. for teachers to use for FREE! Along with all of these great ideas for us to use, they took us on a tour to see Mission Control Center, the Neural Buoyancy Laboratory, and the building that has full size models of the space shuttles. Needless to say, I learned a lot last summer and had a wonderful experience.

Since I participated in the PSTI program last summer, I was eligible for NASA's RGEFP. I filled out the application and found out a week later that I was accepted into the program! After being accepted into the program a few things have occurred.

One of the things that has happened since being accepted is having video conferences with my team. My team consists of four other educators who were selected by NASA, a program coordinator, and a team lead. At these meetings, we have discussed the different experiments that we will be conducting. I will go into more detail on the experiments at a later time.

Another thing that happened on June 1st is we had a Digital Learning Network (DLN) set up between NASA in Houston, TX and the elementary school that I was student teaching at. At this DLN, NASA explained to students what microgravity is how it affects the way things work. The students were so engaged during this and learned so much. They also got a better idea of what I will be doing this summer. I think there favorite part about the whole thing is at the very end when they could ask questions. We found out what astronauts eat and how they go to the bathroom!

Currently, I am working on writing lesson plans for the experiments that I will be conducting in Houston this summer. With these lesson plans, I am going to bring them back to my classroom, and university to share with everyone!