NASA is launching a major new education initiative. The NASA Explorer Schools Program premieres Monday, June 30 at 11:30 a.m. EDT at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Seattle.
The multimedia event kicks off the innovative program to send science and mathematics teachers "back to school" at NASA field centers. NASA experts and resources will be available during the summer to help educators acquire new teaching resources and technology tools to make learning science, mathematics and technology more appealing to students.
As part of the annual National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), NASA Associate Administrator for Education Dr. Adena Williams Loston, joined by astronaut Don Pettit, will announce the first 50 competitively selected NASA Explorer Schools before an expected audience of approximately 1,000 science and technology educators.
In a creative school-like setting, Loston will address a "classroom" of NASA officials and partners. Classmates include Pettit, NASA's International Space Station science officer on Expedition 6; NASA Explorer Schools Program architects Peggy L. Steffen and Dr. Shelley Canright; NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Education Programs Dr. Cliff Houston; and representatives from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. National Guard Bureau.
The new initiative, sponsored by NASA's Education Enterprise, in collaboration with NSTA, will establish a three-year partnership between the agency and 50 Explorer Schools' teams, consisting of teachers and education administrators from diverse communities across the country. During the commitment period, NASA will invite teams to field centers in an effort to spark innovative science and mathematics instruction directed specifically at students in grades five through eight.
Following the announcement, the audience will participate in a technology demonstration. The demonstration will focus on using technology in the classroom to stimulate student interest. Pettit will moderate an International Space Station downlink with the Expedition 7 crew (11:53 a.m. - 12:13 p.m. EDT) for the audience and approximately a dozen student groups via teleconference.
"At NASA, we feel compelled to act, to implement proactive and innovative approaches, such as the NASA Explorer Schools Program, to help stem the decline in the number of young people pursuing study of science, technology, engineering and math disciplines," Loston said. "If we can help, in ways unique to NASA's mission, to hold students' interest in math and science through the middle school years, we would anticipate a marked increase in students entering related careers. The Nation's continued leadership in science and technology depends on the efforts of NASA and others," she said.
ISTE, based in Eugene, Ore., is a nonprofit professional organization with a worldwide membership of leaders and potential leaders in educational technology. ISTE's mission is to provide leadership and service to improve teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in K- 12 education and teacher education. NECC annually attracts more than 15,000 educators.
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