Book Review: Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

After watching the movie, Hidden Figures, I became more curious about the role women played in NASA and space exploration. As part of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge, the challenge encouraged me to read a book about diversity. I chose a book about the women computers of NASA. This book is Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt. I found the book to be quite interesting. Not only did it focus on the role of women as they calculated our way into the heavens, but it provided a detailed behind the scenes account of our journey into space. Read more

Using Evernote Peek to improve your Aerospace knowledge

Throughout my Air Force career, I would use practice quizzes to prepare for my promotion exams. These practice exams were paper-based. Now there are a number of online and digital tools to help students prepare for exams . One tool that has caught my eye integrates with Evernote, one of my favorite tools. This tool is called Evernote Peek. More about this tool in a second, first I would like to point out some benefits of students using online quizzing tools.

Benefits of Online Quizzing

Students tend to find online quizzing more favorable than traditional in class quizzing (Alexander, Truell, & Bartlett, 2002; Nguyen & Kulm 2005; Peat & Franklin, 2002). They have more control of their time because they can choose when to take a quiz (Butler, 2003; Itoh & Hannon, 2002; Johnson, 2006). They often use online quizzing as a study method for the actual exam (Capus, Curvat, Leclair, & Tourigny, 2006; Cassady & Gridley, 2005; Itoh & Hannon, 2002). Because they can practice repeatedly (Brothen & Wambach, 2003), they have less stress while taking the actual exam (Butler, 2003; Cassady & Gridley, 2005; Itoh & Hannon, 2002; Ricketts & Wilks, 2002). The more frequently students use online quizzing to prepare for exams, the better they perform on the actual test (Capus, et al., 2006; Clariana & Wallace, 2002; DeSouza & Fleming, 2003; Grimstad & Grabe, 2004; Johnson, 2006). Students who took online quizzes yielded a ten percent score increase (Butler, 2003). Students using online quizzing practice more than those taking paper-based quizzes (Nguyen & Kulm 2005). Additionally, they have a lower dropout rate (Shimazu, 2005).

One of the greatest attributes of online quizzing is the immediate feedback delivered (Alexander, et al., 2002; Brothen & Wambach, 2003; Byers, 2002; DeSouza & Fleming, 2003; Johnson, 2006; Nguyen & Kulm 2005); students have actually come to expect it (Peat & Franklin, 2002). Many programs can randomize quizzes; students receive a unique quiz each time they take it. With randomized quizzing, students tend to practice more, at least, until they believe they have achieved full benefit (Grimstad & Grabe, 2004). Online quizzes can also incorporate multimedia (DeSouza & Fleming, 2003). There is also a reduction in staff and administrative overhead when administering an online quizzing program (DeSouza & Fleming, 2003; Pain & Le Heron, 2003).

Civil Air Patrol’s Aerospace Education Program

I am regularly looking for methods, strategies, and tools to help my Civil Air Patrol cadets pass their exams. There are a number of variables that affect progression in the program. Cadets can join CAP at any time. Cadets also have varying educational backgrounds: private schools, public schools, and home schools.  As a result, cadets can be anywhere in the program. It is very similar to a one room school house.

Cadets must progress through a leadership and aerospace education curriculum. In an ideal situation, each squadron would have experienced educators providing instruction to cadets; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Unsolicited feedback indicates that online practice quizzes have helped cadets pass their aerospace education exams.

Evernote Peek

Evernote Peek is a flash card quizzing program that uses the Evernote Smart Cover or a virtual smart cover to display questions and subsequent answers. Evernote Peek draws questions from Evernote notebooks containing notes. The question is the title of the note, and the answer is the body of the note. Notebooks can be shared with individuals or with the public. I plan to share my quiz notebooks with the public.

Creating Peek Questions

Here are the steps for creating peek questions.

1. Open Evernote

2. Create a notebook for questions. In this case, I have created two notebooks.

Shared Evernote notebooks
Shared Evernote notebooks

3. Create new notes for each question that you wish to create. Place the question in the title, and the answer in the subject.

Creating Questions in Evernote Peek
Creating Questions in Evernote Peek

4. If you want others to benefit from your questions, share your notebook to individuals or create a public link.

Sharing Evernote Notebooks
Sharing Evernote Notebooks

Using Evernote Peek

To begin using Evernote Peek, first install it on your iPad.

1. Launch Evernote Peek, and tap the add button to add more notebooks.

Evernote Peek opening screen
Evernote Peek opening screen

2. Select either “My Notebooks” or “Shared Notebooks”. If you use shared notebooks, you first join a shared notebook in Evernote.

Evernote Peek Notebooks
Evernote Peek Notebooks

3. Select the notebooks you wish to use, and click on the “Done” button.

Notebooks with questions
Notebooks with questions
New Evernote Peek notebooks
New Evernote Peek notebooks

4. Click on a notebook to begin using it.

Evernote Peek chosen notebook
Evernote Peek chosen notebook

5. Close the Smart Cover and peek to begin or close the virtual smart cover.

Closed Virtual Smart Cover
Closed Virtual Smart Cover

6. Expose the question by flipping up the lower part of the cover.

Showing a question
Showing a question

7. Expose the answer by opening the cover more.

Show the answer
Show the answer

8. Grade your attempt.

9. Close the cover to go to a new question.

If you want to go to a new notebook, open the cover all the way.

Final results
Final results

Shared notebooks

Here are the first two shared notebooks I have for Aerospace Education for Civil Air Patrol. I will be working on more. This particular questions come from Aerospace Dimensions modules.

If you are creating and sharing notebooks with questions, please send me the link and I will include it.


Alexander, M., Bartlett, J. & Truell, A. (2002). Students’ Perceptions of Online Testing. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal. 44(1), 59-69. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Brothen, T. & Wambach, C. (2003). Using WebCT Quizzes in a High-Demand Environment. The Technology Source. May/June 2003. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from

Butler, D. (2003). The Impact of Computer-Based Testing on Student Attitudes and Behavior. The Technology Source. January/February 2003. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from

Byers C. (2002). Interactive Assessment and Course Transformation Using Web-Based Tools. The Technology Source. May/June 2002. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from

Capus, L., Curvat, F., Leclair, O., & Tourigny, N. (2006). A Web environment to encourage students to do exercises outside the classroom: A case study. Educational Technology & Society. 9(3), 173-181. Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Cassady, J. & Gridley, B. (2005). The Effects of Online Formative and Summative Assessment on Text Anxiety and Performance. The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment. 4(1), 4-30. Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Clariana, R. & Wallace, P. (2002). Paper-based versus computer-based assessment: key factors associated with the test mode effect. British Journal of Educational Technology. 33(5), 593-602. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

DeSouza, E. & Fleming, M. (2003). A Comparison of In-Class and Online Quizzes on Student Exam Performance. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. 14(2), 121-134. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from Eric.

Grimstad, K. & Grabe, M. (2004). Are Online Study Questions Beneficial? Teaching of Psychology. 31(2), 143-146. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Itoh, R. & Hannon, C. (2002). The Effect of Online Quizzes on Learning Japanese. CALICO Journal. 19(3), 551-561.

Johnson, G. (2006). Optional online quizzes: College student use and relationship to achievement. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology. 32(1). Retrieved October 18, 2006, from

Nguyen, D. M., & Kulm, G. (2005).  Using web-based practice to enhance mathematics learning and achievement.   Journal of Interactive Online Learning (JIOL). 3(3), Winter 2005.  Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Pain, D. & Le Heron, J. (2003). WebCT and Online Assessment: The best thing since SOAP? Educational Technology & Society. 6(2), 62-71. Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Peat, M. & Franklin, S. (2002). Supporting student learning: the use of computer-based formative assessment modules. Britich Journal of Educational Technology. 33(5), 515-523. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Ricketts, C. & Wilks, S. (2002). Improving Student Performance Through Computer-based Assessment: insights from recent research. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 27(5), 475-479. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Shimazu, Y. (2005). Language Course Taught with Online Supplement Material: Is it Effective? Education. 126(1), 26-36. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

A new appreciation for Second Life

A picture of the interior of the NASA eEducation Building.
A picture of the interior of the NASA eEducation Building.

During the past week, I attended E-volution 2011, an education and technology conference held at the University of Wyoming. At this conference, I had the opportunity to see how skilled instructors were using technology in their classrooms. One of the technologies demonstrated was Second Life, a virtual environment. I have used Second Life to attend conferences, but I really never used it as a focused educational tool. Rachel Watson, a lecturer for Molecular Biology at the University of Wyoming, and Mark Atkinson, a graduate student at the University of Wyoming presented interesting and powerful ways for using Second Life as an instructional tool.

Atkinson, who is also a director for the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, demonstrated how he used Second Life to conduct a staff retreat. He explained the steps he used to prepare staff to conduct a retreat in Second Life, activities to make staff comfortable, and the results of the event. Lots of great ideas.

Watson, who also posts to the blog “A Whole New World for Teaching and Learning,” uses Second Life to hold office hours and walk students through molecules and cell structures. It was fascinating to look at various genome structures and cells. In one case, she “flew” into a cell to examine the various pieces. She has developed a collection of Second Life locations that focus on her discipline and personal interests. One of the more powerful details Watson presented was her Educational Possibilities in Second Life – a table summary. This is a great list of ideas for how to use Second Life in education.

After looking at their use of Second Life, I became excited and started to explore Second Life more closely. I wanted to put together a collection of useful sites related to Aerospace Education to help my Civil Air Patrol cadets. As a result of my explorations, this is what I have put together:

  • Daden Apollo Tranquility Base – An educational simulation of the Apollo 11 Tranquility Base landing site.
  • International Year of Astronomy 2009 – Welcome to the virtual world home of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in Scilands!  Astronomy, galaxy, nebula, star, planet, telescope, universe, astrophotography, space art, free textures.
  • MICA – Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics – MICA [Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics], member of SciLands Amphitheater. MICA website is Astrophysics, Astronomy talks and seminars.
  • The Star Trek Museum – SL’s best collection of Everything Star Trek – Full size  Enterprise, Shuttle Rides, Live Gagh, Holodecks, Trek Science, Astrometrics, P’Jem Monastery, Vulcan Town, Embassies, George & Gracie (whales from ST IV), Roddenberry Scuba, Movies and more!
  • NASA CoLab exhibits – A NASA-sponsored co-working area for employees and volunteers to work collaboratively in the SciLands.
  • NASA JPL on Explorer Island – Home of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Come see the history, explore space and technology.
  • International Spaceflight Museum – Spaceport Bravo – Spaceport Bravo, one of SciLands member ISM’s islands, has the Vehicle Assembly Building & the Orbiter Processing Facility. The ISM is totally volunteer built and donation supported. Not a NASA activity.  BravoPort.
  • International Spaceflight Museum – Spaceport Alpha – Rockets and spacecraft from the past, present and future.  Ride a rocket into space and explore the planets! SciLands member. Volunteer created & maintained, donation supported.  Not  a NASA activity.  AlphaPort.  ISM.
  • The Second Life Planetarium at Spaceport Alpha – See real life stars and planets with our virtual planetarium and telescope.   A proud member of the SciLands.  Astronomy.
  • Space – a Planetarium – Planetarium: Follow the footprints. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune; Moon panoramas (night & day) and much more. The Planetarium is a not-for-profit site, supported entirely by donations.
  • NASA eEducation Island Main Building – The hub of NASA eEducation Island – stop by for info and events related to NASA and NASA education.  NASA eEducation is located in the Scilands.

If you have an other great aerospace education related places to visit in Second Life, please let me know. Enjoy your virtual travels.