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News Release 99-49

For Release: June 21, 1999

Kathleen A. Zona/Lori Rachul
NASA Glenn Research Center
(Bus: 216/433-2920)

Maurice Weaver
Chicago Public Schools
(Bus: 773/553-1614)


NASA Provides Contract to Chicago Public School System for Program to Encourage and Prepare Students for Careers in Math and Science

CLEVELAND, OH - Exploring the world of science and technology using the latest in computer hardware and software will lead many Chicago students to new discoveries including how to design an aircraft and plot its flight.

The NASA Glenn Research Center and the Chicago Public School System, through their Fenger Academy, have established a Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) for kindergarten through 12th grade students with a focus on underserved students. SEMAA’s purpose is to enhance the success and motivate greater numbers of students to pursue careers in science, math and related fields.

"I’m really delighted that the SEMAA program is being replicated in the Chicago area because it will give Glenn Research Center and NASA the opportunity to showcase our many programs and activities that can be used to inspire and interest the Chicago youth to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology," said Glenn Director Donald J. Campbell.

The Chicago program located in Fenger Academy will feature an Aeronautics Education Laboratory (AEL). AEL is a leap in classroom technology, a state-of-the-art, electronically enhanced computerized classroom that puts cutting-edge technology in the hands of students in grades 9-12. At nine unique workstations, SEMAA students will explore satellite global positioning, remote sensing, amateur radio and aircraft design, and collect weather information in preparation for flight. The experience culminates with a virtual flight using a cockpit simulator or head mounted display.

"This program not only piques students’ interest in the fascinating world of science and technology, but does so in an intriguing, entertaining and thought-provoking fashion," said Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. "I must applaud NASA, SEMAA and the Chicago Public Schools for providing this wonderful, out-of-this-world-experience to the students of the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois. I’d like to see this in every school system in America."

Participating in the dedication ceremony was Fenger Academy Principal Janice Ollarvia, Olive-Harvey College President Lawrence Cox, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., NASA Office of Equal Opportunity Programs Associate Administrator George E. Reese, Glenn Research Center Director Donald J. Campbell and NASA Astronaut Joan Higginbotham.

"There is a critical need for preparing our students for careers in science, engineering and mathematics," said Paul Vallas. "We have revised our curriculum in those subject areas to meet the needs for post-secondary education. This partnership with NASA lays the groundwork for a bright future for our children."

A $525,000 two-year contract, provided by the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., was presented to the partnership for the establishment of the SEMAA program.

A vision of former Congressman Louis Stokes (D-OH), SEMAA was established in 1993 by Glenn and Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, OH, to foster understanding and enthusiasm in school-age children for science, math and technology fields. Since 1993, SEMAA has grown from a single site location to a multiple site organization reaching thousands of children in grades K-12 and their families. SEMAA has been replicated at Harris-Stowe State College, St. Louis, MO; Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta, GA; Sinclair Community College, Dayton, OH; Wayne County Community College, Detroit, MI; the University of the District of Columbia; and York College, Jamaica, NY. Future sites are planned for the public school districts in Baltimore, MD and Greenville, NC.

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