Charles County Science Teachers Selected For Flights Of Discovery Program

LA PLATA, Md. (Aug. 29, 2008)—Three Charles County Public Schools' science teachers were recently selected to participate in the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery Program for mathematics and science teachers.

Jennifer L. Davis of Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, Thomas Fawcett of Henry E. Lackey High School, and Charles Newcomb of Westlake High School will participate in one of four scheduled flights offered through the program this October.

Teachers apply for acceptance in the program, which is geared toward middle school mathematics and science teachers. The program is also offered at no cost to participants and a maximum of 60 teachers are chosen per flight.

Program participants experience zero-gravity flights, operated by the Zero Gravity Corporation, which are performed in a specially modified Boeing airplane approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The flights are conducted in dedicated airspace that ranges from 100 miles long by 10 miles wide. Specially trained pilots fly the airplane in a series of maneuvers called parabolas, or arcs, between the altitudes of 24,000 and 32,000 feet.

At the beginning of each parabola, the airplane climbs at a 45-degree angle. At the "top" of the parabola, the aircraft is "pushed over" into a controlled descent that creates a temporary zero-gravity environment. The teacher flights include approximately 15 parabolas ranging from low-gravity environments typical of the moon or Mars to complete weightlessness. At the end of each "weightless" period, which lasts about 30 seconds, the airplane is gradually pulled out of the descent, reestablishing a more normal gravity environment inside the plane.

The program requires selected teachers to attend training workshops before their flight to learn about science and engineering concepts, zero-gravity environments, and science and math curriculum development. In 2006, Zero Gravity Corporation partnered with Northrop Grumman in 2006 to offer the weightless flight experience to teachers. The flights are open to the public and cost about $4,950 per seat.

For more information about the program, visit

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