Summer Students and Faculty Lend a Hand

Volume 10, Numbers 3 & 4, December 1994
by Valerie Thomas
The summer of 1994 was an exciting time for 20 summer staff members in the Space Science Data Operations Office (SSDOO). Many of these employees, who ranged from high school and graduate students to high school teachers and university professors, were introduced to the World Wide Web (WWW) for the first time and developed applications that used Mosaic, the user-friendly multimedia interface that provides easy electronic access to information (text, image, audio, and video) by simply pointing and clicking.

Mosaic projects included developing a photo catalog, incorporating a greater degree of intelligence into WWW servers using "n-gram" processing, and accessing IRAS data products archived by NSSDC. Yon Ko and Nichelle Franklin, both recent graduates from DuVal High School, worked on the implementation of a photo catalog. They assisted in gathering metadata for selected photos, printing photos, and scanning them into the digital form with metadata attached. They also learned about the Hyper Text Markup Language (html) and marked up some documents for WWW access. Their mentor was Joy Beier.

Charles Nicholas, Associate Professor in computer science from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, returned for a second summer to continue his work on the WWW. He incorporated "n-gram"Ñsequences of characters where "n" indicates the length of the sequencesÑprocessing into the WWW server for use in searching for documents on similar topics. His mentor was Michael Van Steenberg.

Lisa Ackerman, an undergraduate student from Rice University, developed a Mosaic interface to the IRAS data products. She also participated in a multiwavelength investigation of the interstellar medium around the young star cluster NGC281 using COBE/DIRBE data. Her mentor was David Leisawitz.

In addition, Elva Jones, a computer science professor at Winston-Salem State University; Arletta Saafir, an undergraduate student from Prairie View A&M University; and Gregory Toatley, Jr., a physics teacher from Central High School, worked as a team on education-related projects that used Mosaic. Elva's long-term research project is to evaluate the effectiveness of hypermedia in delivering complex science data to young students. Her short-term project was to develop a guide to computer science careers that use hypermedia. Arletta developed a framework for an online role-playing game using Mosaic that incorporates space science information and data that are available on the WWW. Gregory's project was a response to the recurring question: "What about most of the teachers and students who don' t have access to the Internet?" He developed an Educator's Guide to the Internet Access, which provides basic information and guidance to teachers who know nothing about the Internet but are interested in gaining access. Their mentor was Valerie Thomas.

Other Education Projects

In addition to these, there were several other education projects. Damani Mitchell of Glenelg High School rewrote the Star Trek page found in the "Just For Fun" section of the Space Science Education homepage to incorporate hyperlinks. He also developed an Education Server Resource WWW page that lists a number of educational resources available on the Web and authored the report, The Key to Effective Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). His mentor was Nathan James. Jenna Juszynski, eager to apply her new teaching degree, and Helen DeRoo of DuVal High School provided recommendations for an education pilot program with DuVal, which is located near GSFC. Their mentor was Rick Payne.

Three students had an opportunity to work in the computer and network security environment, supporting the NASA Automated Systems Incident Response Capability (NASIRC). Allen Chen, a Cornell University student who returned for a second summer, developed security toolkits and provided help desk coverage. He created a toolkit that looks for inconsistencies in Unix system logs and a utility called "thumb," which is similar to "finger" but gives more accurate information. Tia Smith from Spelman College conducted in-depth research on the application of statistical process control to NASIRC's performance measurements. She also provided critical help desk coverage during the early morning. Charity Conrad, a student at Metropolitan College in Denver, helped with the development of the NASIRC homepage and provided help desk coverage as well. Ron Tencati was mentor for Allen and Charity, and Frank Husson was Tia's mentor.

The remainder of the summer staff worked on projects that involved databases, mathematical models, computer systems, and analysis of space science data. Three staff members worked on database-related projects. Richard Bourgin, a Howard University mathematics professor, applied mathematical techniques for determining database structures for efficient data retrieval and manipulation. His mentors were Jim Green and Shing Fung. An undergraduate student, Michael Westover, created a database that tracks instrument compliance with ISTP guidelines. And Michael Shipman, an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, was involved in the development of computer software that examines a dataset for conformance to the requirements of the NASA/Science Office of Standards and Technology (NOST) FITS standard. His mentor was Mona Kessel.

Darin Solk, an undergraduate student at California State University at Northridge, mathematically modeled Earth's magnetic field geometry perturbed by the solar wind. His mentor was Shing Fung. Theodore Johnson, a computer science professor from the University of Florida at Gainesville, studied the use of the near-line systems by scientists. High school student Ben Chen worked with the VAX computing system to evaluate disk space usage and worked with the engineer. Jeanne Behnke was the mentor for both Shipman and Chen. Merra Asres, a student from Chicago State University, analyzed polar magnetosphere data from the Hawkeye spacecraft. His mentor was Jim Green. Charles Higgins, a graduate student from the University of Florida, worked with Jim Green, Jim Thieman, Shing Fung, and Robert Candey to complete a research publication on the fine structure of Jupiter's hectometric radio emission. His mentor was Jim Thieman.

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Author:Miranda Beall
Curators: Erin Gardner and Miranda Beall
Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King, Code 633
Last Revised: 21 Nov 1996 [EDG]