Gilbert A. Clark, an engineer and staff member of the Educational Affairs Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been selected as a 1996 Rolex Laureate in Applied Science and Invention for developing and managing a collaborative program -- called "Telescopes In Education" -- with the Mount Wilson Institute in Pasadena, Calif.
Clark was named Rolex Laureate in a ceremony conducted today in Geneva, Switzerland.
Telescopes in Education (TIE) puts a research-quality telescope at the fingertips of students who use a school computer and telephone lines to aim the telescope, take and receive digital pictures, and use the computer in class to enhance the images for study and reporting.
"What we wanted to do was to hook students on science and learning through the experience of astronomy, letting them use math, writing and computer skills in a real project," said Clark, a veteran Scoutmaster and adult education teacher.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise have been presented by Montres Rolex S.A. of Geneva every three years since 1976 to individuals who conceive and develop an original concept and, with tenacity and dedication, turn it into reality. Awardees at the laureate level are granted $50,000 for their projects. Clark is one of five 1996 laureates.
"We are proud to be able to play a part in the laudable projects of these admirable men and women," said Andre J. Heiniger, chairman of Montres Rolex, "and we sincerely believe their fascinating work will help spread the spirit of enterprise around the world."
The TIE project began in 1992 as a volunteer effort augmented by donations and loans. More than 100 schools have become regular users of the system, with about 100 more casual users.
"TIE regularly puts the process of scientific discovery into all kinds of classrooms from Eastern prep schools to the inner city of Los Angeles," said JPL Educational Affairs Manager Dr. Fredrick Shair. "We are proud to be part of an activity that is so spontaneous and successful."
The project hopes to add more telescopes with the cooperation of observatories in different locations around the world, if additional support can be obtained.
The first telescope, a 60-centimeter (24-inch) instrument now at Mount Wilson was loaned by the California Institute of Technology and refurbished, installed, equipped for remote- control operation and fitted with a loaned CCD electronic camera chip and remote-control software through the generosity of industry and the Mount Wilson Institute. Support for student operations is provided through grants from NASA's Offices of Space Science and Aeronautics, Washington, D.C.
Additional information on the Telescopes in Education program can be obtained from the World Wide Web at: http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/TIE/TIE_index.html.
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