July 6, 2011

NASA Education Forum To Focus On Students’ Vision For Future

NASA will host an education forum with more than 250 college students on Thursday, July 7 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. The event will focus on their vision for the future of America's space program.

The forum will take place one day before the final space shuttle launch and is the agency's first-ever "unconference." A popular trend in the technology sector, an unconference has no set agenda or prescribed desired outcome. Instead, it offers an opportunity for the participants, primarily college students, to guide the discussions, encourage creative interaction and debate among the attendees.

"We want our student participants to feel free to have an open dialogue about what is important to them in the context of space exploration, aeronautics, technology and robotics," said NASA Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin. "Sometimes having a set agenda or discussion topic can stifle creativity. These young people are our next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers. We encourage them to reach higher, and we are anxious to hear what exciting pursuits they envision for the future."

The student participants will tour NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and meet a NASA astronaut who will give them an overview of the final space shuttle mission. They also will witness shuttle Atlantis' launch.

The agency began holding regular pre-launch education forums in August 2007 with the STS-118 shuttle mission that carried teacher turned astronaut Barbara R. Morgan. NASA has a broad education program to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM. Maintaining a high-tech workforce is critical to NASA's future programs and will help the country remain innovative and competitive in the global market.

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