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September 2009

Matt with baby daughterOkay,

What I have been doing---Alexandra was born end of April, defended my thesis (successfully. . .) in May, and graduated with my Master's in August; started a new job position at my school where I am developing a new course titled "NASA Space Science and Exploration"---it is an elective course designed to integrate and support math and science across the curriculum while infusing space interest (all that good STEM stuff . . .) and as much technology as I can afford to get access to and our kids' hands on.

 We have "the actual" Shuttle training software (the DST software) in the classroom with our students learning from a former NASA JSC employee who worked in the astronaut office.  We also have a students learning about how to use videoconferencing technology, learning how to develop and deliver PPT presentations of scientific research findings and activities from class (coming up in January and March, in preparation for the NASA Student Symposiums), etc.

I'm also pursuing a NASA grant for the District for consideration for next year, as I have somehow found myself in the position of helping the District better develop its space science curriculum (since there is none with the exception of the NASA class I teach) as well as help develop non-existing STEM programs at our feeder high school since there is no more hands-on tech ed programs offered to students.  I don't quite know how the District will want this to develop, but all I know is that there have been a lot of discussions and nobody really understands the STEM and NASA bit, so I find myself in a very interesting position (which can be defined several ways if you know what I mean. . .).  I have already planned to integrate the Spaceward Bound training I have received in the NASA course I am teaching now, as I always have in the past. . . but my big goal is to infuse these lessons into the grade 3-12 proposal I have started to develop for the District.

Regarding my scientific research I found out last spring about when Alexandra was born that I was selected by NASA for funding support to present two more research papers at the upcoming IAC in Korea (one on education outreach--the student SB I did when I was in Iowa; and one scientific paper).  I leave for Korea October 9, 2009 and can hardly wait.  I feel honored to have been the only graduate student selected to present at the last three conferences, so my research must mean something to someone.  Interestingly though, the research was originally started by two Russian scientists back in 1998 and 2005 respectively, and then nothing after that.  I took this work, and with the help of a few others (Chris, etc.) developed a newer model to help with the identification of mistakes tendencies during missions of varying lengths.  I recently found pre-flight interviews by two commanders (one Russian and one American) that commented on the importance of such research back in 2002 and 2005, but nothing developed from it.  Back in 2005-07 I was a rescue diver in Iowa, and I implemented this model and its strategies with our dive team. We found amazingly positive results.  My plan now is to see how some of my recent efforts are received and then pursue with two separate expeditions at a remote location (i.e. the MDRS) where I can develop a control and experiment group and test my methodologies.  So, we will see where it goes in the future.  If there is interest in this for next year with the MDRS/Spaceward Bound rotations I would be happy to talk with you and Chris about my participation again as a scientist and teacher.  

Some other things I have been doing that may be of interest on the alumni page:

1)  I also just flew on a Reduced gravity flight yesterday with Zero-G down in Albuquerque, NM if you are interested in that.

2)  Last spring I was invited to be the lead author of a chapter on "Search and Rescue" for a book that will be published soon titled Human Performance in Extreme Environments.  Chris was one of the co-authors of this chapter development.  I can send you pics of me when I was on the dive rescue team in Iowa if you are interested, plus I can send you the introduction of the chapter, which provides a somewhat hair-raising insight into my first dive into the blackout water conditions of the Missouri River.  

3)  I also was selected by NASA last spring for the third consecutive conference which I am receiving full-funding support to attend the upcoming IAC in Korea.  I will be presenting two research papers (one scientific--psychosocial considerations for long-duration spaceflight; and one on education outreach and the event I did (Student Spaceward Bound) which you highlighted on the SB archives (it was the three day analog mission I did with students in Iowa)).  If you would like me to send anything on these (the papers in PDF format, etc.) I would be happy to do so.

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