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NASA Education Program to be Highlighted Thursday During Iowa’s Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Day at State Capitol
Martin Jensen
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256.544.0034)
News Release: 05-006

Teachers from Sioux Central Community School in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, will join representatives from NASA Headquarters in Washington and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Thursday, Jan. 27, in Des Moines to participate in Iowa's Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Day.

They will meet with state representatives and members of Iowa county boards of education in the Capitol rotunda to explain the impact of the NASA Explorers School program -- a collaboration with NASA that brings mathematics, science and technology learning opportunities to students in economically underprivileged areas across the country.

With grades kindergarten through 12 and a 600-member student body, Sioux Central is in the second of a three-year partnership with NASA as an Explorer School. The school, about 175 miles northwest of Des Moines, was selected in 2003 and is Iowa's only Explorer School.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to speak with state representatives from across Iowa and hopefully open more doors for NASA's education programs throughout the state," said Beth Ingrum, the Explorer School program coordinator at the Marshall Center. "We want to better inform the public about the programs and services we have to offer. And events like this give us a great chance to do just that."

Created in 2003, the program is sponsored by NASA's Office of Education. NASA selects 50 Explorer Schools each year to participate in the program. Today there are 128 Explorer Schools in 46 states and the District of Columbia with more than 40,000 students involved in the program. The program engages students with hands-on classroom projects and computer-based math and science tutorials that teach problem-solving skills and real-life challenges faced by NASA engineers.

Schools apply for the program, competing with other schools in a rigorous screening process, which includes providing a detailed description of the school and its potential team members. Each school must provide demographic information; the educational challenges facing the school and its students; and community, family and societal factors that affect student success. Applicants must list the goals of a school district, the school and its staff to improve science, mathematics, technology and geography test scores. The description must include improvement efforts that are currently under way and how they support meeting state standards.

NASA reviews the applications, and announces the selections each spring. Once a school is designated an Explorer School, its teachers work with NASA education specialists to create innovative science and mathematics instruction for students. The goal is to spark students' interest in pursuing careers in science, technology and engineering.

Iowa's Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Day is hosted by the Iowa Mathematics and Science Coalition -- an alliance of industry leaders, educators and public policy makers working to improve mathematics and science literacy statewide.

For information about the NASA Explorer Schools Program on the Internet, visit: