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Astronaut Encourages Students In Los Angeles

Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Headquarters, Washington March 19, 2003
(Phone: 202/358-0836)

Carolina Martinez
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone: 818/354-9382)

March 18, 2003

RELEASE: 03-108

Selected as an astronaut in 1998,.Leland D. Melvin received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Richmond and a master of science degree in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia.

NASA astronaut and former NFL player, Leland Melvin, will make several public appearances in the Los Angeles area this week to explain NASA's Educator Astronaut Program (EAP) and encourage interest among young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Melvin, EAP co-program manager, has traveled the country meeting students and teachers. The EAP, which began in January, is part of NASA's effort to connect space exploration with the classroom and to inspire the next generation of explorers.

"In addition to showing students just how much fun science learning can be, I believe it is essential to highlight the need for students to develop an academic and career plan of action that includes alternatives, a plan B, if you will," Melvin said. Injured at the cusp of his professional football career, Melvin pursued an alternative passion for engineering that led to his application to and acceptance into NASA's Permanent Astronaut Corps in 1998.

"Leland Melvin's visit to Southern California provides NASA yet another great opportunity to reach out to young people to get them excited about science and learning, by meeting a young astronaut who is passionate about the adventure of exploration," said Adena Williams Loston, NASA's Associate Administrator for Education.

For the first time, NASA is recruiting individuals with specific experience and expertise in K-12 education. Through EAP, NASA plans to send teachers into space as fully trained astronauts. Melvin will encourage students to nominate their teachers for the EAP. The EAP application deadline is April 30, 2003.

Melvin's schedule:

11:30 a.m. PST, March 20: Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim: Melvin will sign autographs at the NASA exhibit and talk with participants of the National Society of Black Engineers' 29th Annual Conference about the EAP and NASA education initiatives.

2:30 p.m. PST, March 20: Anaheim Marriott Hotel, Anaheim: Melvin will present awards at the National Society of Black Engineers' 29th Annual Conference, at the Rocketry Design Program workshop, an event targeting high school students with engineering career aspirations.

10:00 a.m. PST, March 21: Vanguard Learning Center, Compton: Melvin will meet with students grades 4 through 8 and teachers of science classes from the Compton Unified School District to discuss the EAP.
1:00 p.m. PST, March 21: Elliott Middle School, Pasadena: Melvin will meet with students, teachers and local public officials to discuss EAP.

4:00 p.m. PST, March 21: California Science Center, Los Angeles (700 State Drive): Melvin will meet with Los Angeles area science teachers, students, and the general public to discuss EAP, and to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Congresswoman Diane Watson, 33rd Congressional District, will introduce Melvin, and offer her support of the EAP.

For more information about NASA, the EAP, application process, and eligibility requirements, on the Internet, visit:

For more information about other NASA education initiatives on the Internet, visit:

To schedule an interview with Melvin, in conjunction with his Los Angeles area appearances, contact Carolina Martinez at: 818/354-9382.

For more information about NASA on the Internet, visit:

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