The NASA Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy, or SEMAA, is a national, innovative project designed to increase participation and retention of historically underrepresented K-12 youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
SEMAA has emerged as a nationally renowned leader in the efforts to increase the participation of historically underserved K-12 youth in the areas of STEM. Established as a joint venture in 1993 between NASA Glenn Research Center and Cuyahoga Community College, the project has grown from a single site to a national organization that is supported by Congress and dedicated to improving the academic success of children nationwide.
SEMAA is located at community colleges; Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs; Hispanic Serving Institutions, or HSIs; Tribal Colleges and Universities, or TCUs; high schools, middle schools and elementary schools: and science centers/museums in urban and rural cities throughout the United States. (For current locations visit the SEMAA locations page.)
Establishing the Need
Students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields provide the workforce for vital military, government and industry jobs, as well as supplying the great thinkers needed to maintain U.S. leadership in technology and innovation. There is a serious shortage of young people entering STEM fields today. This fact, coupled with the high-tech workforce needs of the 21st century and the lagging test scores indicating a lack of STEM proficiency among the next generation of explorers, poses a bleak picture of an America left behind.
SEMAA's Unique Capacity to Respond to the Need
NASA has a unique capacity to revitalize STEM education in America; utilizing its awe-inspiring subject matter, cutting-edge research opportunities, and world-class facilities. NASA is currently investing in a portfolio of educational programs/projects focused on (1) Strengthening NASA and the nation's future workforce, (2) Attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines, and (3) Engaging Americans in NASA's mission. NASA SEMAA is aligned to NASA Education Outcome 2: Attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines.
SEMAA harnesses the collective resources of NASA, institutions of higher education, science centers, museums, and primary and secondary schools to bridge the education gap for historically underserved and underrepresented K-12 youth in STEM. The foundation of SEMAA's historical track record of success is centered around the project's unique capacity to build strong relationships with students and families focused on the benefits of STEM literacy.
- Inspire a more diverse student population to pursue careers in STEM-related fields.
- Engage students, and parents/adult family members, and teachers by incorporating emerging technologies.
- Educate students using rigorous STEM curriculum enhancement activities designed and implemented as only NASA can.
Key Components of Service
The NASA SEMAA project is managed by the Educational Programs Office at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, with contractor support provided by Paragon TEC, Inc. (National SEMAA Office). NASA SEMAA, together with its 200+ STEM partners, continues its work around the country to inspire, engage and educate the next generation of explorers.
Hands-on, Inquiry-Based K-12 STEM Curriculum Enhancement Activities, or CEA
The NASA SEMAA project uses a series of unique hands-on, inquiry-based classroom curriculum enhancement activities. In addition to being aligned with national math, science and technology standards, these activities encompass the research and technology of each of NASA's four mission directorates (Aeronautics Research, Exploration Systems, Science and Space Operations). On average, NASA SEMAA students participate for a total of 36 hours each year, 21 hours during the academic year and 15 hours during the summer. NASA SEMAA graduates who have participated in the entire K-12 program will have completed 441 hours of advanced studies in STEM prior to their enrollment in a post-secondary institution.
Developed by NASA and equipped with 10 workstations, the Aerospace Education Laboratory, or AEL, is an electronically enhanced, computerized classroom that puts cutting-edge technology at the fingertips of NASA SEMAA middle- and high school-aged students. Each computerized research station provides students with real world challenges relative to both an aeronautics and microgravity scenario. Examples of the real aerospace hardware and software contained in the AEL include an Advanced Flight Simulator; a laboratory-grade, research wind tunnel; and a working, short-wave receiver and hand-held Global Positioning System for aviation. In addition to being an extraordinary tool for educating middle and high school students, the AEL serves as an excellent training facility for pre-service teachers on the NASA SEMAA curriculum.
Unique to the NASA project, the Family Café is an interactive forum that promotes sustained family involvement at each of the NASA SEMAA sites around the country. The Family Café engages SEMAA parents and adult family members in up to 21 hours of Family Focus Group sessions each year, during which time participants are engaged in dialogue focused on relevant parenting and STEM education information. In addition to Focus Groups, the Family Café hosts a multitude of Family Night activities and other special events that promote parent and adult family member participation in student learning.
The NASA SEMAA project currently boasts 15 sites located throughout 14 states across the nation. These site locations include community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, primary/secondary schools, science centers and museums. Collectively, the SEMAA sites have inspired, engaged and educated over 350,000 students, parents and adult family members and teachers from 2004 through 2011.
Each NASA SEMAA site is required to develop a Sustainability Plan to enhance local project operations, as well as to ensure project sustainability beyond NASA funding. During the 2008 fiscal year, NASA SEMAA sites leveraged a network of 200+ partners that contributed a record number of sustaining funds for SEMAA in excess of $3.9 million (including both financial and in-kind support).
The NASA SEMAA project is managed by the Educational Programs Office at NASA's Glenn Research Center, with contractor support provided by Paragon TEC, Inc. NASA SEMAA, together with its 200+ STEM partners, continues its work around the country to inspire, engage and educate the next generation of explorers.
NASA SEMAA Project
NASA John H. Glenn Research Center
21000 Brookpark Road, M.S. 500-107
Cleveland, Ohio 44135
National SEMAA Office
Paragon TEC, Inc.
3740 Carnegie Avenue, Suite 302
Cleveland, OH 44115
Read over this list of Frequently Asked Questions with regard to the NASA SEMAA project.
A Passion for Flight
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