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Oct. 27, 2014

NASA exhibit on display at Schwartz Library

By Melanie Morris

Sphere displayed in libraryThe new exhibit at the Michael Schwartz library is a fascinating vizualization tool used to display images, models and animated data. Science on a Sphere (SOS) is available for viewing on the first floor of the library now until Dec. 16.

The display is presented by NASA Glenn Research Center and sponsored by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program.

The sphere itself is six feet in diameter and is suspended in the air. Imagery — including Earth’s land, oceans, atmospheres and space — are presented on the sphere to complement the learning experience.

“SOS influences teaching and learning by demonstrating complex scientific concepts through data visualization and live interpretation,” Carolyn Clapper, NASA Glenn’s Policy and Strategic Communication project manager, said.

Jeff Woytach, aerospace engineer at NASA Glenn, spoke about the solar system on Tuesday, Oct. 14 — using the exhibit during his presentation. He spoke about space and atmospheric sciences — including outer planets in the solar system such as Pluto — and the current trends in tropical storms and global warming.

As he discussed these subjects, the picture on the sphere changed, illustrating the topic he was discussing. For example, a member in the audience asked about the sun and someone using an interactive iPad changed the image on the sphere to the sun.

The iPad contained about 400 sets of data, illustrations and pictures that could be used for lesson planning. NASA has made other materials available online for teachers and students. The materials can be customized for specific instruction needs.

The exhibit is a NASA Glenn projectThe SOS systems are typically located in museums, science centers, zoos and other institutions. The exhibit was brought to Cleveland State not only to be showcased and generate interest in space and atmospheric sciences, but also to open up possibilities for collaboration among students, faculty and researchers at NASA on new datasets.

“This development effort provides an opportunity for students and educators to integrate engineering, science and graphical arts,” Clapper said.

While the exhibit has been successfully showcased at other universities and planetarium museums, this is NASA’s first dataset collaboration with a university.

“Speakers from NASA’s Space Communications and Spectrum Management office are excited about this opportunity to engage the students and encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” Clapper said.

Students and faculty are encouraged to attend Science on a Sphere community events. Representatives from NASA and industry professionals will be presenting using the exhibit. A schedule of events can be found on the library’s website.