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03-004
For Release: January 24, 2003

Sally V. Harrington
Media Relations Office
216/433-2037
Sally.V.Harrington@nasa.gov


New Educational Facility Makes the Sky the Limit for Students

NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, in partnership with Richland School District One in Columbia, S.C. today dedicated a new educational laboratory today. The facility will send students off to a flying start, as they explore the world of math and science using modern computer technology.

Through the newly dedicated Aerospace Educational Laboratory (AEL), which is a state-of-the-art, electronically enhanced computerized classroom, students will discover the concept of flight, as they design an aircraft and plot its flight or take a virtual trip to the International Space Station.

"The AEL is designed to stimulate the curiosity of students. We want to make science, discovery, exploration and research exciting to engage the imagination of the Nation's youth and inspire them to pursue careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

Rep. James E. Clyburn, 6th Congressional District and John Hairston, director External Programs at NASA's Glenn Research Center participated in the dedication. Also present from NASA was Edwin Prior, deputy director of the Office of Education at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. South Carolina is part of the five-state region Langley's Office of Education serves.

The laboratory is located at the new Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) Program site in the Challenger Space Science Center. The laboratory is part of a nationwide network of similar facilities cosponsored by NASA and education organizations.

SEMAA exposes historically underrepresented students in grades K-12 to activities in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics and technology. The program consists of three eight-week, Saturday morning sessions with distinct curricula for each grade level. There are no student fees.

"The young people who participate in this program will be the engineers, researchers and computer experts of tomorrow," said John Hairston, director of External Programs at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, which manages the program. "The goal of this program is to inspire them to excel in the areas of math, science and technology, so they may reach their full potential."

SEMAA, a vision of former Cleveland congressman Louis Stokes, was developed in 1993 through a partnership between Glenn and Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland to foster understanding and enthusiasm for math and science in school children. Since then, SEMAA has grown from a single location to 19 sites reaching more than 45,000 students, parents and teachers around the country. NASA's Office of Equal Employment and Opportunities in Washington funds the SEMAA program.

Additional information about SEMAA is at:

http://www.semaa.net

For more information about AEL, go to:

http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/MAEL/

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