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Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-0836)
September 29, 2003
RELEASE : 03-310
NASA Helps Students "Blast Back To School"
NASA will help students lift off to a great new school year with the launch of a new "Blast Back to School" sampler of cool agency supplies.

NASA astronaut Dr. Don Pettit, who recently returned from a four-month mission on the International Space Station, kicks off the event Tuesday at 9 a.m. EDT with students from Anne Beers Elementary School, 3600 Alabama Avenue SE, Washington.

The "Blast Back to School" sampler has a NASA notebook, stickers, ruler, eraser, pencil, pen, posters, mission photographs, information about NASA-related careers, links to NASA educational Web sites, and classroom activities. The out-of-this-world sampler, developed for elementary age students, is an initiative of NASA's Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE). CORE is the distribution center for NASA-produced multimedia materials.

"With the "Blast Back to School" sampler, NASA has the opportunity to reach out to students at a young age to begin nurturing what we hope will be a long relationship that will inspire them," remarked Dr. Adena Williams Loston, NASA Associate Administrator for Education. "We are looking to engage students in NASA's unique missions and discoveries by feeding their natural curiosities about air, space and Earth as only NASA can," she said.

In addition to Pettit, Connie Hollingsworth, NASA Educator Astronaut Program Manager and former school principal, and staff from the new NASA Explorer Schools (NES) Program will be on board to encourage students to see learning math and science in a whole new light. Anne Beers Elementary School is one of only 50 competitively selected NASA Explorer Schools from communities in 30 states. The NES Program is a major new education initiative at NASA, created to spark innovative science and mathematics instruction directed specifically at students in grades four through nine.

"Through both the "Blast Back to School" product sampler, and the NASA Explorer Schools Program, NASA is implementing proactive and innovative approaches that we hope will help stem the decline in the number of young people pursuing study of science, technology, engineering and math disciplines," said Peggy Steffen, NASA Explorer Schools Program Manager.

The new initiative, sponsored by NASA in collaboration with the National Science Teachers Association, establishes a three-year partnership between NASA and NASA Explorer School teams, consisting of teachers and education administrators from diverse communities across the country. NASA Explorer Schools are eligible for up to $17,500 in grant funds for educational technology purchases that enhance instructional capacity.

"The teachers and students at Anne Beers Elementary are all very excited about every opportunity to continue our relationship with NASA, and our selection among the first class of NASA Explorer Schools just heightens our enthusiasm," said Beers Principal Anthony Fears. "To add to that, the "Blast Back to School" sampler is really a terrific way to get our kids excited about NASA and eager to learn more about how math and science are connected to the ground-breaking work that NASA does. The stickers, pens, rulers and other items with the NASA logo imprinted on them will serve as a constant reminder to our students of the promise of exploration," he said.

Through CORE's distribution network, the public has access to hundreds of videocassette, slide, and CD-ROM programs, chronicling NASA's state-of-the-art research and technology. NASA's educational materials on aeronautics and space provide a springboard for classroom discussion of life science, physical science, space science, energy, Earth science, mathematics, technology and career education. The only charge is for shipping and handling the free materials.

For more information about NASA CORE and to order "Blast Back to School" samplers over the Internet, visit:

For a list of NASA's first 50 Explorer Schools on the Internet, visit:

For information about other NASA Education programs on the Internet, visit:


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