Today was a very exciting day at school for several reasons. One was the successful launch and recovery of the unmanned spacecraft “Orion” by NASA, which some of my STEM students watched and experienced in real-time. The launch was at 6:05 Oklahoma time (7:05 Florida time) and the splashdown in the Pacific Ocean happened 4.5 hours later, about 10:30 am Central time. Here are 3 videos from NASA about the mission and the launch which are excellent, and I recommend sharing with your students. I included several of these on our “STEM Curiosity Links” page.

“Orion: Trial by Fire” is an excellent, 7 minute video with dramatic videography that explains the mission and a lot of the technology / engineering involved in it. I showed this entire video to my classes on Thursday after the initially scheduled launch was scrubbed, after NASA tweeted the link to it in the morning.

The second video I recommend is the actual launch video, “Orion Soars on First Flight Test.” The full video is almost 11 minutes long, I showed the first five minutes of this to my classes today, which took the launch through the separation of the “port and starboard” rocket boosters. It’s amazing to see the sunrise on the clouds below the rocket as it launched from Cape Canaveral today!

The third one I recommend you share with your students is the five minute “Orion Explore and Beyond” video. Wow! NASA published this after the successful launch today, and it shares a bold vision of future deep space exploration for NASA and for humanity. Video creators did a great job including women and men and people from different ethnic backgrounds. I think many of my students could really “see themselves” in this video about courageous exploration and smart engineers. It’s really well done. If you watch any of these three videos personally, watch this last one.

All three of these videos total 22 minutes of combined viewing time. I added them to a new YouTube playlist for “NASA Deep Space Exploration.” Today’s mission was the first time in 40 years that NASA has sent a spacecraft into high earth orbit. It was VERY exciting and motivational to experience these events from our STEM classroom in Oklahoma! Who knows? Some of my 600 students this year may be among the NASA engineers and astronauts who help send the first humans to “the red planet” in a few short years!

Check out more photos in NASA’s Flickr set “Orion.” Follow @NASA_Orion on Twitter for ongoing mission updates! We all need to be “connected educators,” and learning about this exciting mission by NASA this week was a great example of how this can directly benefit classroom instruction and student learning.

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