NASA's Launch Services Program Helps Promote Black History Month
Kennedy Space Center's Education Programs Office and the Outreach Division of NASA's Launch Services Program, managed by the center, teamed up to reach over 2,000 underserved and underprivileged students at schools in Palm Beach and Pinellas counties in Florida during the month of February.
Project Coordinator Christopher Blair, with REDE Critique, and Education Specialist Annesly Wood, with ASRC Aerospace Corp., coordinated the visits to 16 schools in both counties during the weeks of Feb. 14 and Feb. 21 for Black History Month.
Cheryl Johnson is the information education lead and helped to coordinate the outreach efforts.
“By using NASA educational products and Kennedy engineers and educators, the informal education team was able to inspire, encourage and motivate more than 1,600 students with hands-on STEM activities, including the opportunity to meet and hear engineers describe what they actually do for a living.”
From Tuesday through Thursday each week, Blair and Wood led outreach programs for fifth and eighth grade students at the schools, with a focus on encouraging careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Activities included presentations from guest speakers from Kennedy directorates, a question-and-answer session, and hands-on activities.
“We worked with each school district office to ensure the topics met the educational standards they wanted to focus on,” Blair said. “All of NASA’s educational materials align with state and national standards.”
Wood led the outreach efforts in Palm Beach County, while Blair led efforts in Pinellas County.
The fifth-grade students participated in designing and launching paper rockets, while the eighth-grade students experienced NASA’s digital planetarium -- a 360-degree fish eye lens view of the universe, solar system and stages of the moon.
Guest speakers from Kennedy varied each day and many were African-American workers representing a variety of NASA programs.
They also distributed handouts, supplemental materials and guides for the teachers to use later. The outreach team also walked around each school to meet and talk to students in various grades.
Blair said that they worked with the Palm Beach County school district’s technical staff in order to provide webcasts of their presentations to other schools they could not visit. He estimates they reached another 20 teachers and their students per day each week.
On Mondays of both weeks, the outreach teams visited the local science centers where they reached more students who were there on group field trips.
NASA's Kennedy Space Center