Education Technology

Earth Impact!, a TI-Nspire™ activity based on the science and math behind Hollywood’s epic disaster-from-space thrillers, promotes exploration and understanding of STEM principles that real-life engineers, scientists, astronomers and mathematicians rely on every day.

The simulation opens with discussion-provoking depictions of the catastrophic events resulting from a massive asteroid striking the Earth. NASA is calling for the best and brightest minds in math and science to change the course of the asteroid to avert disaster.

“This activity provides students an engaging and hands-on way to learn how math works,” said Dr. Randii Wessen, Ph.D. – space expert at the Science & Entertainment Exchange and engineer at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory – who consulted on this activity’s development

Earth Impact stimulates inquiry-based learning by encouraging students to individually analyze data provided by the simulation, and then to discuss their results, defend their reasoning and compare their findings with their peers.

Explore science and Math
with Earth Impact

Earth Impact! stimulates inquiry-based learning by encouraging students to analyze data provided by the simulation, and then to discuss their results, defend their reasoning and compare their findings with their peers.

Dr. Randii R. Wessen, Ph.D.

Space Expert

Since 1984, Dr. Wessen has been an employee of the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He is currently a Senior Technical Staff Member to JPL’s Innovation Foundry. Prior to this, he was the Navigator Program System Engineer, detecting whether Earth-like planets exist around other stars. He also was the Telecommunications & Mission Systems Manager for the Mars Program, the Supervisor for the Science System Engineering Group, Manager of the Cassini Science Planning & Operations Element, the Galileo Deputy Sequence Team Chief, and the Voyager Science Sequence Coordinator for the Uranus & Neptune encounters.

Dr. Wessen received his Bachelor of Science in both Physics & Astronomy from Stony Brook University, a Master of Science in Astronautics from the University of Southern California, and a Doctorate in Operations Research from the University of Glamorgan, Wales, United Kingdom. He co-authored the books Neptune: the Planets, Rings & Satellites and Planetary Ring Systems He was the recipient of NASA's Exceptional Service Medal for his contributions to the Voyager 2 Neptune Encounter and has 11 NASA Group Achievement Awards. Dr. Wessen is also a fellow of both the Royal Astronomical Society and the British Interplanetary Society as well as an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics. Asteroid 31664 (Randiiwessen) is named in his honor.

More than 10 million Near Earth Objects (NEOs) have been identified.

If one of them does take on a trajectory toward Earth, we're going to need a lot of math and science to save the day.

- Randii R. Wessen, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory


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