Last week, we welcomed teachers to Atlanta for our annual Primarily Teaching summer institute. These educators explored the holdings of the National Archives at Atlanta for classroom-suitable documents, and ended up discovering NASA documents on really interesting space topics like the SkyLab 3 zero-gravity student experiment.
The year 1973 found two spiders, Arabella and Anita, blasting off into space. The SkyLab 3 spider experiment started with a curious high school student, Judy Miles, who wondered if spiders could spin webs in zero gravity. NASA was intrigued with the idea, and promptly began working on the logistics of sending spiders into weightlessness conditions.
Arabella and Anita spent a few days of sloppy web-weaving adjusting to their new conditions in space, but by the end of their mission, they were spinning webs in the same patterns they had spun back at home, proving that spiders really can spin webs in zero gravity—and just as well as they can on Earth!
Because of the hard work of these educators, and the staff who assisted with scanning the documents, anyone curious about the SkyLab spiders can now find these documents on DocsTeach, our online tool for teaching with documents.
Atlanta is just one of our Primarily Teaching locations this summer. Each workshop focuses on a specific topic, but all fit into the National History Day theme of “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.” The research in Atlanta was a great success, and thanks to the effort of these teachers, documents on the SkyLab 3 student experiment and other space endeavors can now be accessed and used for teaching and classroom activities.
The National Archives at Chicago held Primarily Teaching last week too, digitizing documents related to the WWI homefront, so check back soon to hear more about their findings!
Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the support of Texas Instruments and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.