Press Release

Space Institute, FGCU Awarded Grant for Innovative K-12 Education Program

By SpaceRef Editor
June 4, 2004
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CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT – The Florida Space Research Institute (FSRI) and The Whitaker Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) announced today that they will collaborate on a pilot project that will use NASA and other aerospace resources to improve math and science education in eight Florida counties. The project is sponsored by the Florida Department of Education under a Math-Science Partnership (MSP) grant.

“Today’s K-12 students are tomorrow’s leaders in aerospace engineering, research, and science,” said Florida Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings. “This education partnership will use the excitement of space exploration to stimulate student learning in math and science, and encourage our youth to consider careers in the aerospace industry. I applaud FSRI and FGCU for their vision and creativity in establishing this pilot project.”

FGCU and FSRI will establish a regional network of aerospace education mentors to provide standards-based resources, training and other support directly to K-12 teachers and classrooms. The project will use space/aerospace-themed resources developed by NASA and partner organizations like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; the SpaceTEC center for aerospace technician training at Brevard Community College; the University of Central Florida; and FSRI’s web-based Advanced Learning Environment. A reading component is planned to promote space-oriented reading at all grade levels, and a rigorous evaluation process will be used to measure the project’s effectiveness.

“NASA and other aerospace organizations have excellent education resources, but they don’t have the distribution network to put them into the hands of enough teachers,” said FSRI Executive Director Sam Durrance, a former astronaut and educator. “We want to demonstrate how state governments can work with NASA to accomplish its educational mission, extending its reach into our nation’s classrooms.”

The participating counties include Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Okeechobee, Osceola, and Volusia. Based on the pilot project’s success, FSRI and FGCU hope to leverage additional state and federal support to expand the mentor network for statewide coverage.

FSRI is an institute established by the state’s Governor and Legislature to stimulate Florida’s space industry diversification through space research and education programs. FGCU, located in Ft. Myers, is one of Florida’s eleven state universities and the fastest growing university in the country.

SpaceRef staff editor.