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HAMPTON, Va., Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA education specialists and teachers from across Virginia will engage the public about the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission and science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – activities at this weekend’s NASCAR races at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) in Richmond, Va.

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The event will be held Sept. 6 – 7 at RIR and is the result of a partnership between Rockets 2 Racecars (R2R), a NASA Digital Learning Network program, the Virginia529 College Savings Plan and the Science Museum of Virginia.

Race-credentialed members of the media are invited to interview NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education, former astronaut and Virginia native, Leland Melvin, at 6 p.m. EDT, Friday, Sept. 6, in the Infield Media Center. Melvin, who will wave the green flag for the start of the Virginia529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race that night, will talk about NASA’s STEM education initiatives and the LADEE launch scheduled to occur late Friday. For more information contact Aimee Turner, Director of Communications for RIR at

Non-race credentialed media, who would like to talk with Melvin, should contact Sasha Congiu at 757-272-9859 or by 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5. Interviews will take place at 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6, in the Virginia529 Kids Zone, located on the Commonwealth Mall, near Lot D.

LADEE is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface, and environmental influences on lunar dust. The spacecraft is set to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on Friday, Sept. 6, at 11:27 p.m. RIR is a designated viewing area for the LADEE lift-off.

A visualization of what the LADEE launch will look like from RIR can be found at:

Race fans will have the opportunity to see a model of the LADEE spacecraft in the Virginia529 Kids Zone, Friday, Sept. 6 from 12 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Families also will get to see the R2R exhibit, where they will learn how space exploration has helped the auto and racing industries and how NASA plays a key role in improving brakes, engine cooling systems and more.

In addition, they will have the chance to participate in two NASA engineering design challenges and meet Robonaut 2, a highly dexterous and human-like robot. Children also will be able to make a slide containing moon regolith simulant and will learn how it differs from soil on Earth.

Prior to the races on Friday and Saturday, teachers participating in R2R professional development training will learn how aerospace science, technology engineering and mathematics relates to the racing industry and also about NASA’s LADEE mission. Teachers will then show off their newly acquired skills in the Virginia529 Kids Zone at RIR, as they work alongside NASA education specialists in the engineering design challenge booths.

The R2R STEM Education Program trains teachers in concepts related to aerospace and racing through real world examples. The training helps them teach students about air pressure, Newton’s Laws, and mathematical calculations that are used at NASA and in the racing industry.

For more information about the LADEE mission and launch, visit:

For more information about Rockets to Racecars, visit:

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By adminVR

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