While some 200 Texas high school juniors are checking the depth of the job pool at Johnson Space Center this summer, more than 80 8th-grade teachers will be going back to school, learning how to integrate the new ocean of space into their classroom lesson plans.
As part of the Texas Aerospace Scholars, both the High School Aerospace Scholars and the Middle School Aerospace Scholars encourage Texas students to explore future careers in engineering and science fields through interaction with engineers at JSC. Originally established as a joint venture by NASA and the State of Texas, the program now also is supported in part by the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and the Rotary National Achievement for Space Award.
Media are invited to meet the Texas Aerospace Scholars participating in the first onsite study session of the summer, as well as Texas Legislators attending the session’s closing banquet, at 10 a.m. CDT Friday, June 28, 2002, in JSC’s Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (Bldg. 9). Also on hand to speak with the students, teachers and legislators will be Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar.
Media wishing to participate in Friday’s activities must contact the newsroom no later than 4 p.m. June 26, 2002, for accreditation. Transportation onsite at JSC will be provided and media must be in place at the main gate no later than 9:30 a.m. the day of the event.
As High School Aerospace Scholars, Texas high school juniors visit JSC for a one-week, all-expense paid, summer professional development experience. Each student is nominated by their state legislator in the fall of their junior year, and must complete a series of online activities to prepare them for their week at JSC. Before arriving at JSC, the students are divided into six groups, each visiting the space center for a different week in June and July. While at JSC, they interact one-on-one with NASA engineers and scientists using the backdrop of space to survey future career possibilities in technical areas.
The Middle School Aerospace Scholars shares space-age tools with teachers involved with students in this impressionable age-group. Their students are expected to be future high school and community college aerospace scholars. The middle school teachers will participate in one of three one-week summer sessions at JSC during June and July. Teachers will learn from JSC education specialists about the latest distance learning techniques and how to use the lure of space exploration and technology to inspire their students. Teachers will design lesson plans and activities to take back to their classrooms, and will participate in JSC distance learning activities throughout the upcoming school year.
The State of Texas, as well as the United States as a whole, has experienced a significant decrease in college graduates in technical areas. Since 1987, bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering have declined more than 50 percent nationwide, and only 5 percent of U.S. students earn undergraduate degrees in engineering. In contrast, demand for high-tech workers in Texas increased 52 percent between 1994 and 2000.
JSC and the State of Texas are working together to alter this trend through the Texas Aerospace Scholars program and its three subdivisions. The number of students participating in the Texas Aerospace Scholars programs more than doubled in 2002; 55 percent of Texas community colleges were actively involved and students from 60 percent of all Texas Legislature districts were nominated. The number of teachers participating quadrupled during 2002, and 19 of the state’s 20 Educational Service Center Regions were represented by teachers.
More than 1,200 students and teachers have been accepted into the TAS programs during its three-year history. This year, more than 630 students and teachers from across Texas are visiting JSC as part of their participation.
For more information about the Texas Aerospace Scholars program, visit:
For more information about other JSC educational programs, visit:
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