LORETTO, Pa. — A grant of more than $24,000 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will help St. Francis University create models of the moon’s surface, as well as educational videos and presentations dedicated to science and to upcoming engineering projects on the moon, for exhibits that will benefit the community.
“The more we learn about the moon, the more we learn about our Earth,” said Lanika Ruzhitskaya, assistant professor of physics.
She is the Principal Investigator of the Community Anchor Award for the Loretto School’s Science Outreach Program, which applied for funding to expand science education in the area.
His colleagues Timothy Miller, Qin He, and Guochang Wang will participate in the St. Francis project, titled “Space Science and Engineering Interactive Mobile Exhibit for Rural Areas: From the Earth to the Moon.”
The team is meeting and drawing up a schedule to determine when the exhibits will be ready — most likely by the end of August, Ruzhitskaya said. The group will work with the Claysburg, Hollidaysburg, Patton and Portage libraries to host the exhibits.
“The goal is to make people feel like they have a little moonlight in Pennsylvania,” Ruzhitskaya said. This will be done with models made using the university’s 3D printers.
“The exhibit will expose young children and their families to space science and engineering through live interaction with the exhibit’s educational content and SFU faculty and students,” a statement said. university.
Ruzhitskaya said facility librarians will be trained to operate the interactive exhibits.
Miller said he expects it to be “a great educational opportunity for the local community.”
“We considered using different 3D printing models, images, videos of rock samples, moon structure, ecological systems, etc., to visualize the surface of the moon,” said he declared. “We also want to use different 3D models to display the life difference between Earth and Moon, such as house structures, transportation, communication, energy supply, etc. The main idea is to help understand how science and engineering knowledge can be applied to achieve different goals on the moon.
Miller is a petroleum engineer whose main research focuses on the extraction of underground hydrocarbons from rocks by drilling. He said NASA was carrying out a drilling project on the moon and that this work was an essential step in understanding the celestial body.
“We hope this project is a start for our region in a process of deep learning about the moon and also our Earth,” Wang said. “More people can be involved in this process, contributing knowledge to the public community, contributing to advances in science and engineering associated with the moon and space, inspiring new ideas, and more. “
Wang is also a petroleum engineer and geologist.
“Through the completion of this project, we believe that primary, secondary and university students can learn more about the moon and the history and future of moon-related research and projects,” said said Wang.
“It could attract more students to STEM majors in college and improve their willingness to learn geology, physics, and engineering. For parents, besides understanding the moon better on their own, they can give their children broader suggestions for their major and career.
St. Francis was one of 21 organizations across the country to receive NASA funding.
“Our grant was so good that they couldn’t refuse it,” Ruzhitskaya said.
She added that those at NASA were impressed with the engineering component of the project.
Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.