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Check out NASA
at the Library

A traveling exhibit brings a taste of outer space to your community library

NASA

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July 1, 2003:  Coming soon to a library near you: a portal to outer space!

It's not a wormhole or a Star Trek-style teleporter, of course. This "portal" is a brand-new interactive exhibit that begins a 2-year tour of U.S. libraries this month. Fun activities on flat-screen computers allow curious minds to puzzle over floating water droplets and spherical candle flames, marvel at the beauty of the Earth seen from orbit, and learn what living in space is really like.

Space buffs can put their knowledge to the test: Do people's spines "stretch out" without the compression of gravity, making them taller in orbit? How can you take a shower when the water droplets float around? What happens to boiling water in space, since the bubbles don't rise? And what can we learn about the environment by looking down at the Earth from space?

Above: This "NASA @ your library" exhibit-stand houses six flat-screen iMac computers for visitors to play with. Image courtesy American Library Association and NASA.

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The goal of this new exhibit, called "NASA @ your library", is to use the "cool factor" of space to interest children in math and science, and to make people aware of the unique benefits of doing science in orbit. Interested libraries can still apply to host the exhibit by filling out this form.

"Space research plays an integral role in our daily lives," says Mary Kicza, NASA's Associate Administrator of Biological and Physical Research. "It affects many things around us including the foods we eat to everyday household products. This exhibit will educate everyone on the importance and opportunities in space research."

The exhibit consists of two stands: One houses six new flat-screen iMac computers for visitors to play with. The computers, supplied by Apple Computer, run an interactive, multimedia presentation featuring animated cartoon characters, which was specially designed for the exhibit. The other stand is a plasma-screen theater. It will show movies about NASA research.

The tour kicked off today at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. Five exhibits will visit a total of 120 libraries around the U.S., staying a month at each one. The other four opening libraries are Johnson County Library, Overland Park, Kansas; Lakewood Library, Tacoma, Washington; Northwest Reno Library, Reno, Nevada; and Spartanburg County Public Libraries, Spartanburg, South Carolina. A list of all participating libraries, along with the dates that they will host the exhibit, can be found here.

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Above: The interactive exhibit uses fun, illustrated activities to present space research topics in an engaging way. Image courtesy ALA.

"The 'NASA @ your library' program is a wonderful example of how libraries have become modern community centers for information, education and entertainment," says American Library Association President Carla Hayden. Hayden adds that while not everyone can afford to have the information resources of the Internet in their homes, everyone in the community can utilize the local library.

It may not be the Space Station itself, but if this new exhibit inspires some young people to pursue careers in science, they just might find themselves conducting research in weightlessness some day!

Web Links

NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research (OBPR) supports research for the benefit of humans in space and on Earth

NASA @ your library -- The exhibit will explore space exploration in the fields of human health, agriculture and the environment, home and transportation, and careers in science and technology.

Right: The plasma screen theater is the newest part of the "NASA @ your library" exhibit. It will give a different presentation each of the four weeks at the library. Topics: what NASA research has contributed to our (1) health, (2) home and transportation, (3) agriculture and environment, and (4) commerce.

Participating libraries -- a list of libraries in the U.S. that will host the "NASA @ your library" exhibit

Land a Space Station in your library -- information page for libraries interested in hosting the exhibit

Application to host "NASA @ your library" -- in Adobe PDF format (download a free reader)

American Library Association -- home page


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