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News Release 99-30

For Release: April 30, 1999

Kathleen A. Zona/Lori Rachul
NASA Glenn Research Center
(Bus: 216/433-2901)

Dr. Robert R. Hayward
Fernbank Science Center
(Bus: 404/378-4311)

NASA Provides Contract to Fernbank Science Center for Program to Encourage and Prepare Students for Careers in Math and Science

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

The NASA Glenn Research Center and the DeKalb County, GA, School System's Fernbank Science Center have established a Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) for kindergarten through 12th grade 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.

"Having this academy and a lab permanently on site will give teachers and students a long-term exposure to the latest technology that will expand their knowledge and stir their imagination in math and science," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin.

Fernbank's 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 can explore technologies through hands-on/minds-on activities that model real-world challenges in aviation.

"Our goal at Fernbank is to develop a national prototype for innovative public science and technology education," the Director of the Fernbank Science Center, Mary Hiers, said. "Improving the quality of science education in Georgia and nationally is a shared responsibility."

Leading the ceremony was the DeKalb County School System Executive Director Dr. Fannie H. Tartt; Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-4 CD); NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin; NASA Office of Equal Opportunity Programs Associate Administrator George E. Reese; and NASA Glenn Research Center Director Donald J. Campbell. Other dignitaries participating were DeKalb County School Board Chairman William Bradley Bryant; DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. James R. Hallford; Fernbank Science Center Director Mary A. Hiers; and NASA astronaut Lieutenant Commander Robert L. Curbeam, Jr., U. S. Navy.

A $975,000 two-year contract was recently awarded to Fernbank Science Center from NASA. The funding is provided by the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs at NASA's Headquarters in Washington, D. C.

"NASA Glenn's goal is to make the SEMAA program an outstanding experience for students and will help them build bridges that will lead them into the 21st century," said Glenn Research Center Director Donald J. Campbell.

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 Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH; Wayne County Community College, Detroit, MI; York College, Jamaica, NY; and at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC. Future sites are planned for the public school districts in Chicago, IL; St. Louis, MO; Baltimore, MD and Greenville, NC.

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