Outreach

Here we post comments and results of our outreach activities. You can subscribe to it via RSS.
  • Public Lecture by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden @ UPR Arecibo Public Lecture by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 10 AM UPR Arecibo Theater Reservations (787) 815-0000 x3680 Former astronaut and now NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will ...
    Posted Dec 12, 2014, 12:08 PM by Abel Mendez
  • Workshop: Exoplanets on Sight 2014 The workshop Exoplanets on Sight teach middle-school students about the science and recent discoveries of exoplanets. The workshop is given every Summer as part of the ISMuL's Summer ...
    Posted Jun 11, 2014, 7:20 AM by Abel Mendez
  • Students Uncover 24 new Exoplanets Middle-school students visualize exoplanets as part of the ISMuL-NASA STEM Summer Academy 2013 'Exoplanets on Sight' is a workshop for K-12 students where they learn about planets ...
    Posted Jun 14, 2013, 1:32 PM by Abel Mendez
  • Thirty New Exoplanets on Sight We gave the workshop Exoplanets on Sight to 30 middle school students (8th and 9th grade) from public and private schools of the northwest of Puerto Rico (near de Arecibo ...
    Posted Sep 9, 2011, 12:02 PM by Abel Mendez
  • Exoplanets on Sight: A high school project to study exoplanets. We are helping a pair of high school students with a spinoff of our PHL projects about exoplanets light curves. The students are constructing sphere models (out of ping-pong ...
    Posted Jun 1, 2011, 9:28 PM by Abel Mendez
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 5. View more »

Public Lecture by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden @ UPR Arecibo

posted Dec 9, 2014, 7:39 AM by Abel Mendez   [ updated Dec 12, 2014, 12:08 PM ]


Public Lecture by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 10 AM
UPR Arecibo Theater
Reservations (787) 815-0000 x3680

Former astronaut and now NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will visit the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (UPR Arecibo) on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 10 AM. Mr. Bolden will tour the NASA projects at UPR Arecibo and give a presentation for the general public. The introduction to Mr. Bolden's presentation will be given by Prof. Abel Méndez, NASA MIRS Fellow and Director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at UPR Arecibo.

UPR Arecibo has four NASA related projects: the Aerospace Education Laboratory (AEL), the Integrated Science Multi-use Laboratory (ISMuL), the Leading AeroSpace Education Development (LASED), and the Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL). Mr. Bolden's visit is sponsored by NASA Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium (PRSGC) and the UPR Arecibo.



El ex-astronauta y ahora Administrador de NASA Charles Bolden visitará a la Universidad de Puerto Rico en Arecibo (UPR de Arecibo) el jueves 11 de diciembre de 2014 a las 10 AM. El Sr. Bolden observará los proyectos de NASA en la UPR de Arecibo y hará una presentación para el público en general. La introducción a la presentación del Sr. Bolden será dada por el Prof. Abel Méndez, NASA MIRS Fellow y director del Laboratorio de Habitabilidad Planetaria de la UPR de Arecibo.

La UPR de Arecibo tiene cuatro proyectos relacionados con NASA: el Laboratorio de Educación Aeroespacial (AEL), el Laboratorio Multi-uso de Ciencia Integrada (ISMuL), el Desarrollo Educativo Líder Aeroespacial (LASED), y el Laboratorio de Habitabilidad Planetaria (PHL). La visita de Mr. Bolden es auspiciada por el Consorcio del Espacio de NASA en Puerto Rico (PRSGC) y la UPR de Arecibo.



Comunicado de Prensa Oficial de la UPR de Arecibo

Administrador de la NASA irá al Laboratorio Aeroespacial de UPR-Arecibo
El astronauta visitará solo dos recintos de la UPR

[Arecibo, PR – 8 de diciembre de 2014] Como parte de una gira de eventos oficiales, el administrador de la National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, por sus siglas en inglés) y astronauta, Charles F. Bolden, Jr., decidió visitar el Laboratorio de Educación Aeroespacial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico en Arecibo (UPRA) este próximo jueves, 11 de diciembre y ofrecerá una charla abierta al público a las 10:00 a.m. en el Teatro de dicha Institución.

La UPR en Arecibo alberga un importante proyecto que es parte de la NASA a través del Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium. Este proyecto es conocido como Integrated Science Multi-use Laboratory (ISMuL) e incluye el Laboratorio de Educación Aeroespacial, conocido en inglés como Aerospace Education Laboratory (AEL).  

AEL es el primer y único laboratorio en su clase construido fuera de los Estados Unidos continentales. Este proyecto está diseñado para promover el avance de la educación en ciencias, matemáticas, ingeniería y tecnología utilizando variadas estrategias y enfoques interdisciplinarios que alcanzan las comunidades externa y universitaria. Su importancia es tal, que el Jefe de la NASA decidió visitarlo e interactuar con estudiantes participantes de AEL como parte de sus prioridades en este viaje. 

Por los pasados 15 años, AEL ha ofrecido servicios gratuitos en UPRA a maestros y estudiantes visitantes de escuela intermedia y superior de toda la Isla.

La visita de Charles F. Bolden, Jr. ha generado gran interés en la comunidad universitaria, así como por parte de múltiples escuelas públicas y privadas de la zona que visitarán la UPR en Arecibo el jueves para la charla del reconocido astronauta, pero también para recorrer con él varios proyectos adscritos a ISMuL. 

La entrada es gratis y abierta a toda la comunidad universitaria y externa. Se recomienda reservar su espacio en el Teatro a través de la extensión 3680 (ISMuL).

Contacto: Prof. Anilyn Díaz Hernández
Enlace con la prensa y la comunidad
Tel. (787) 815-0000 Extensiones 1000-1007

Images of the Event
(all image credits to UPR Arecibo)


Charles Bolden back to piloting lessons from undergraduate student Radulf Basmeson at UPR Arecibo's Aerospace Education Laboratory (AEL). This is the only NASA's aerospace educational lab outside of the continental USA.

Dr. Eliana Valenzuela explains to Charles Bolden the educational robotic projects at UPR Arecibo's Integrated Science Multi-use Laboratory (ISMuL).

A middle school student at the UPR Arecibo's ISMuL shows the construction of a LEGO robot to Charles Bolden.

Dr. Otilio González, Chancellor of UPR Arecibo, and Prof. Abel Méndez, Director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL), discuss future plans with Charles Bolden prior to his public lecture.

Charles Bolden shares his experiences as astronaut and NASA Administrator with over four hundred students, faculty, and general public at UPR Arecibo.

Dr. Guillermo Nery, Coordinator of AEL, and Prof. Glorymill Santiago, Director of ISMuL and AEL, receive a recognition plaque from Charles Bolden. A student from NASA's Space Camp shares the moment.

More information and pictures at the UPR Arecibo's Lobo Digital (Spanish).

Workshop: Exoplanets on Sight 2014

posted Jun 6, 2014, 11:19 AM by Abel Mendez   [ updated Jun 11, 2014, 7:20 AM ]


The workshop Exoplanets on Sight teach middle-school students about the science and recent discoveries of exoplanets. The workshop is given every Summer as part of the ISMuL's Summer STEM AcademyThis year iteration focused on potentially habitable worlds. Students learned about what makes a planet habitable and that not all of them are necessarily equally habitable. A clip from the upcoming movie Almost Home was used to introduce this point in a fun way. The main activity consisted on visualizing exoplanets according to the their surface and atmospheric composition. Students used NASA's Extreme Planet Makeover to visualize planets and explore the stellar and planetary properties required to support habitable planets. Finally, they painted their own planets according to composition, some taking more artistic liberties than others. Below are photographs of the work of the students against a stellar background. Students were encouraged to share their work in social media.

Individual Exoplanet Frames



All Exoplanets


Students Uncover 24 new Exoplanets

posted Jun 14, 2013, 1:40 AM by Abel Mendez   [ updated Jun 14, 2013, 1:32 PM ]


Middle-school students visualize exoplanets as part of the ISMuL-NASA STEM Summer Academy 2013

'Exoplanets on Sight' is a workshop for K-12 students where they learn about planets around other stars (exoplanets) and their potential appearance. The main activity of the workshop is to design an original exoplanet based on its composition. A total of 24 middle-school students participated in this three hour workshop as part of the ISMuL-NASA STEM Summer Academy 2013 (June 3-14, 2013) at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

During the workshop, the students learn the reasons behind the distinctive appearance of planetary bodies in the Solar System, and exoplanets discoveries. Students are free to create realistic or artistic planetary representations by painting Ping-Pong balls. They are encouraged to differentiate between potential and artistic features in their creations and to share them online.

The workshop was given by Prof. Abel Méndez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo. The ISMuL-NASA STEM Summer Academy is a two-week intensive program for middle schools students on STEM topics. ISMuL (Integrated Science Multi-use Laboratory) is an innovative, multi-level, multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary center designed to promote the advancement of education in STEM. Funding for ISMuL comes mostly from NASA and Puerto Rico Space Grant (PRSG).

Individual images of each exoplanet creation are available at the PHL's Google+ Page or as a ZIP file.

Thirty New Exoplanets on Sight

posted Jun 1, 2011, 8:25 PM by Abel Mendez   [ updated Sep 9, 2011, 12:02 PM ]

We gave the workshop Exoplanets on Sight to 30 middle school students (8th and 9th grade) from public and private schools of the northwest of Puerto Rico (near de Arecibo region). In the workshop the students learned about astrobiology science and exoplanets with a visual tour of the Solar System from NASA imagery and Earth's past from the PHL's Visible Paleo-Earth imagery. We presented the current and future efforts to study exoplanets, emphasizing the possibility of Earth-like planets. The students were not happy to learn that scientists are only capable to see exoplanets as simple dots in a few cases, using direct imaging techniques, but that was not a limitation for the imagination of the students.

The activity of the workshop was to visualize exoplanets, from Earth-like planets to giant planets, by modeling hypothetical exoplanets with ping-pong balls and some paint. The students were very enthusiastic to paint their planets based on what they learned about the planets and moons of the Solar System. Their modeled exoplanets were photographed agains a dark background with a digital camera (see below for the result). We were surprised by the imagination of the students.

The workshop Exoplanets on Sight was part of the two-week summer program ISMuL's STEM Camp where the students are learning about current topics in science and technology, participating of hands-on activities in aeronautics, robotics, and rocket science, and guided tours to caves, a planetarium, and the Arecibo Observatory. The program was sponsored by the Integrated Science Multi-use Laboratory (ISMuL)NASA Puerto Rico Space Grant and the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.


These are the 30 modeled exoplanets out of painted ping-pong balls created by middle school students as part of the workshop Exoplanets on Sight. Of course, you can create exoplanets with NASA Extreme Planet Makeover, but it is much cooler to create them by hand, they look prettier too. Can you identify the Earth-like planets?

Exoplanets on Sight: A high school project to study exoplanets.

posted Jun 1, 2011, 8:09 PM by Abel Mendez   [ updated Jun 1, 2011, 9:28 PM ]

We are helping a pair of high school students with a spinoff of our PHL projects about exoplanets light curves. The students are constructing sphere models (out of ping-pong balls) of various Earth-like planets and measuring the light reflected from the spheres as a function of the planet rotation (figure 1). This is analogous to what astronomers plan to do in the next decades to determine the presence of ocean and land areas in Earth-like planets. As far as we know, this is the first time anybody tries to study the light curves from Earth-like exoplanets using scale models. Previous efforts included the use of computer simulations and directly observing Earth from its moonshine or from space missions (i.e. NASA Epoxi Mission).
    The scale models has the combined advantage in that they test true physical optics including CCD camera effects plus are easily customizable for different conditions. The students are painting the spheres trying to match the colors and reflective properties of land and oceans. They later add a removable white paint to simulate various cloud and ice covers. Living in a tropical area, it was their idea to check how the light curve of an exoplanet will be affected with large localized cloud covers, as those produced by cyclones (i.e.hurricanes). The title of their project "Exoplanets on Sight" was also their idea, certainly a great name. They will try first to emulate the terrestrial visible light curve and later move forward to different Earth-like planets (figure 2). Their science project will be presented as part of the Google Global Science Fair 2011.
    This is nice project for students where they learn about astronomy, exoplanets, and astrobiology, and probably contribute to scientific knowledge. We will post more information about the students and their project results on April.


Figure 1. This image is not a low resolution photo of Earth, an Earth-like exoplanet, or computer graphics (CGI). This is a scale model of Earth constructed from a ping-pong ball and painted with the colors and reflectivity of Earth as part of a high school project to study exoplanets. See the animation here for two full rotations.

Figure 2. Light curves for two full rotations produced by PHL software based on the images created of the first scale model of Earth created by high school students project "Exoplanets on Sight." Although the reproduction of the color of the oceans, including the glint (a bit saturated), was quite right, the continents were too dark, thus giving a different light curve than current Earth. The students are creating a corrected version and this is now a model for a Dark-Earth exoplanet.

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