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Media Memo: UW-Eau Claire grad to conduct experiments aboard NASA's 'Weightless Wonder'

July 11, 2012

TO: News Editors and Directors

FROM: Julie Poquette

Allison Stalker
Allison Pittman Stalker
Allison Pittman Stalker, a spring 2012 elementary education graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will travel this week to NASA's facilities at Ellington Field in Houston to conduct experiments aboard the Weightless Wonder aircraft as a member of the Pre-Service Teacher Institute (PSTI) Alumni Flight Team. Stalker, a Hudson native, now lives in Fond du Lac.

Stalker and four teammates will be a part of NASA's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP), which gives participants the opportunity to propose, build and fly experiments in reduced gravity. Participants perform the experiments aboard a microgravity aircraft that produces periods of weightlessness for up to 25 seconds at a time by executing a series of approximately 30 roller coaster-like parabolas over the Gulf of Mexico. During the free falls, participants gather data in the unique environment that mimics space.

Stalker's opportunity to work aboard the Weightless Wonder is the result of her participation in the PSTI program during summer 2011. Stalker and her teammates were selected based on their submission of an in-depth lesson plan proposal with outreach extensions.

Stalker and the other members of the PSTI Alumni Flight Team will arrive July 12 at Ellington Field. They will go through physiological training and fly their experiments during the week of July 16.

"These experiments will help us teach our students about microgravity and how things react differently in 1-g versus zero-g," said Stalker, who is seeking an elementary teaching position in the Fond du Lac area.

More information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program is available on the NASA website. Also see Stalker's blog about her RGEFP participation, as well as her team's website and Facebook page. Stalker can be reached via email at rgefp2012@gmail.com.

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