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NASA Selects Partners in Idaho, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Wyoming for 2010 Summer of Innovation

April 26, 2010

NASA is partnering with the Space Grant Consortia of Idaho, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Wyoming in the Summer of Innovation initiative to use the agency’s out-of-this-world missions and technology programs to boost summer learning, particularly for students who are underrepresented and underperforming in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

“NASA is partnering with these states in a pilot program to address our nation’s critical science, technology, engineering and math education needs,” said NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles F. Bolden. “Summer of Innovation pairs the strengths of the states with NASA’s unique resources to engage more young people and their teachers and inspire and equip them to excel in these critical disciplines.”

NASA intends to award four cooperative agreements that total approximately $5.6 million. Awards have a period of performance of 36 months. Local programs are required to develop ways to keep students and teachers engaged during the school year and to track student participants’ performance through 2012. Awardees are encouraged to leverage the unique capabilities and resources of program partners to ensure a sustainable effort following the period of performance.

Through the Summer of Innovation program, NASA will engage thousands of middle school teachers and students in stimulating math and science-based education programs. NASA’s goal is to increase the number of future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, with an emphasis on broadening participation of low-income and minority students. Details of the four pilot programs for the Summer of Innovation are:

- The Wyoming Space Grant Consortium’s proposal for “Powering STEM Education in Wyoming with Wind Energy” will focus on a state-wide, intensive, interactive program about climate change and energy that culminates in the development of fully functional wind turbines and weather stations with remote monitoring capabilities for continued research. This project ties aeronautics and climate change together with wind turbines and provides students with an understanding of the impact of climate change locally and globally.

- As part of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium’s proposal for “Launch and Learn,” participating middle school teachers and students will design and build experiments that study science and engineering problems in suborbital space. Students will launch their experiments on a sounding rocket from Spaceport America in Las Cruces, N.M.

- The Idaho Space Grant Consortium’s proposal is a “NASA Education and STEM Program for Underrepresented Populations.” The program has a strong emphasis on physics and a focus on cultural relevance and sensitivities. Middle school students in Idaho, Montana and Utah will be exposed to NASA’s planetary science, robotics, space exploration and aeronautics materials. The participating students will be from schools on tribal reservations in Idaho, Montana and Utah, as well as three locations in southern Idaho.

- The proposal from the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium will focus on providing NASA’s robotics, Earth and space science, astrophysics and engineering missions to nine Massachusetts educational institutions and industries that serve middle school students and teachers. The project uses innovation in extensive partnerships to reach a broad and diverse population of students through intensive summer engagement programs.

The Summer of Innovation will be conducted in a multifaceted approach that will allow NASA to assess the viability, scalability and success of the pilot programs. After the Summer of Innovation concludes, NASA will conduct an analysis to determine the best practices to build capacity to implement a comprehensive project in the summer of 2011 and beyond.

NASA used the agency’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program to implement the Summer of Innovation pilot. The Space Grant national network consists of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The network includes 850 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies supporting and enhancing science and engineering education, research and public outreach efforts for NASA’s aeronautics and space projects.

For information about NASA’s Education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

For additional information, click on “Selected Proposals” and look for “The 2010 NASA Summer of Innovation Pilot,” solicitation number NNH10ZNE004C at: http://nspires.nasaprs.com