The countdown for the shuttle launch is "nominal" and the weather looks good for the planned Wednesday launch - I'm psyched! Meanwhile the STS-118 Prelaunch Education Conference wrapped up today, and it was an excellent meeting. It was great to meet so many NASA people and educators, including teachers, administrators, science museum staff, informal educators, and others. We are all trying to find ways to make use of kids' interest in space flight to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Of course one of the basic problems is that this STEM stuff (science, technology, engineering, and math) is not easy - it can certainly lead to rewarding educational and career experiences, but it's something you really have to work at, and that takes perspiration as well as inspiration (to paraphrase Edison). I managed to hand out around 60 single-page flyers that I printed up on Orbiter and to talk with many people about using it as an excellent interactive (and free) educational resource. I hope some of them find it useful.
For STS-118 itself, with the theme "Igniting the Flame of Knowledge," NASA has planned some inflight education events, as well as follow-up activities and challenges including an engineering design challenge for K-12 and an astronaut-inspired physical fitness challenge for grades 3-5.
P.S. This page confirms that STS-118 Commander Scott Kelly and Pilot Charlie Hobaugh have in fact been practicing landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft in spite of quarantine, so that may have been their Gulfstream that we saw taking off yesterday afternoon!