Teachers defy gravity for students

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – When flying with Zero Gravity Corporation, there are only two rules: Have fun and talk about it. From there, it's all smooth sailing for its passengers seeking the experience of a lifetime.

The Northrop Grumman Foundation has been sending teachers up with Zero G for nearly five years. According to the program manager, the hope is that the zero gravity flights will inspire teachers to inspire students to embrace stem subjects like science and math.

"The foundation thinks its really important to encourage the professional development of teachers because, the teachers are the ones that inspire students," said Northrop Grumman Weightless Flight Program Manager Cheryl Horn.

Zero G uses a modified Bowing aircraft that flies along a special flight pattern called parabolas.  According to Zero G, the parabolas resemble rolling hills.  As the plane goes up the hill, passengers feel like they are being pinned down by extra G forces.  However, as it goes down the hill, passengers experience negative G force and a zero gravity environment is created.

Monday, around 30 teachers from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana got to experience just that. While floating around like an astronaut is entertaining, the teachers also came with homework.

Each teacher had an experiment, most designed by students.  The teachers conducted each experiment in the weightless environment and filmed the results, all to take back to the classroom.

"Students these days, and even when I was in school, we liked the real life experience. To bring that into the classroom and show the unique side of the outside work of people who use math and science, its going to make a huge difference among my kids," said Ocean Springs Middle School teacher Grady Brown.

The weightless experience lasts about 30 seconds for each parabola, and there are 15 parabolas in each flight.

"To be able to take this back into the classroom, any classroom and share with students and get hem excited about math and science really helps you become a better educator and makes them better students," said flight coach and teacher Vicki Goggams.

But what does it feel like to be weightless?

"It was just an amazing feeling.  A little chaotic but just the feeling of weightlessness is hard to explain," said Brown.

It's that amazing feeling that teachers will share through pictures and videos to show students that being a science nerd has its perks.

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